Five of Cups Considers Forgiveness, by Ali Trotta

You put grief into the earth,
carefully, with your own two hands,
and by the time you are done,
there is dirt under your nails,
a mess—
            but that offering
of tears howls like an exorcism,
and you think maybe you got it right
            this time, finally,
that you pulled the monster
out of your heart, instead
of setting it free—
            but in the night,
you can hear it, whispers
in a language you understand
but cannot speak, carried by wind
and crow, never staunched
by moonlight or mercy.

            How do you stop mourning
the living? No one teaches you this,
no one ever lets you in on the secret,
            so you’ve been carrying it around,
that mountain of memory and hope,
and unforgiving, a creature of ash
and ruin that stole small moments from you,
            only to use them
                        as weapons,
sharp as teeth and talon.

But the trick is not to swallow
            or bury
                        or unburden yourself—
these things cannot be given away,
            be unwoven,
            or be unmade—
                        you must make peace

with the agony of longing, the slippery
            hurt of loss, the way the space
fills up and yet still stays empty—
            you are not alone,
            this feeling is not final,
you can still plant flowers
            in defiance of the ache.

Return to Issue #31

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top