Saturday Poem


The torturer removes a fingernail:
No forgiveness for him.
An old Nazi softens, laments:
No, put him to death.
He who hates:
Give him a mirror and a gun.
He who hates in the singular:
Forgive him, once.
The crimes of lovers:
Forgive them later, as soon as you can.
Anyone who hurts someone you love:
Saints, you forgivers,
we could never be friends.
The betrayer, the liar, the thief:
Forgive anything you might do yourself.
The terrorist pulls a pin:
forgive the desperate, the homeless,
the crazed.
The terrorist pulls a pin:
No, no more good reasons.
The rat in my crawlspace, the vicious rat:
No forgiveness necessary.
I, who put out the poison:
God of rats, forgive me once again.

by Stephen Dunn
from Between Angels
W.W. Norton, New York