• Forgive Me

    Vievee Francis

    Spring 2022

    The house that keeps me from moving
    That lets me rest because I must, rest
    These legs that have mastered the stairs
     for now, maybe, for a while
    This face that you love, that I will never
    And this hair I refuse to press that you
     press your face into
     and no one near me knows how to
     comb, which enrages me since
     I have been trained to manage, to cut
       to arrange anyone’s hair
    Forgive me this rage that means we may
     not visit South Carolina, though
      I am used to Tennessee and North
    This rage that makes breathing difficult
    I pant in my sleep as if running
     from what chased my kin and would
     see me dead if I am not careful
    Forgive the truth that I won’t stop
     speaking to you and others
    We know how others hate to be seen
     through, and there is nothing a man
      won’t do if a mirror is held before him
    Forgive my inability to keep friends close
     but you would not love those who are
      unkind, and too many are
    I may be wrong, forgive me, my brother
     is unkind and you are kind enough
      to forgive him

    Vievee Francis is the author of The Shared World, which is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press; Forest Primeval, winner of the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award; Horse in the Dark, winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize; and Blue-Tail Fly. She is the recipient of the 2021 Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.

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