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  • Saint Sorry, and: Love Poem
  • Linda Gregerson (bio)

Saint Sorry


Because she had no money and becausethey called it a charity shop,                        the woman whose ten-

week-old baby had finally died though of whatand why it couldn't be fixed she'd never                        be able to understand,

she asked them there, the people at the charity shop,would they give her a dress to wear for the service she                        only had jeans,

and because they told her no,                        my mother for years

would quietly bring our secondhand clothesthe twenty-odd miles to Portage where                        if people were not kinder

in the aggregate, they hadn't yet floutedthe basic laws of human. Saint Vinny's                        down the road she never

talked about why add to the shame whichmeans her trips to Portage were to our minds just                        another of my mother's

minor oddnesses. I don't recallwho finally told me the story or how long                        she had been dead by then. [End Page 3]


Saint After-the-Fact. Saint Sorry-I-Must-Have-Slept-through-the-Part-that-Mattered.                        And the time

I wouldn't eat it, food she'd cooked becauseI'd asked for it. And every callow                        rudeness to a check-out clerk

I made her watch, like smearing mudon linen. If these are the screens imagine the things                        I did that I won't talk about.

That grocery cart abandoned in the parking lot?When you see me pushing it back to the store                        think penance in a faithless age.


"It's not so much the terror when the world as theyknow it is broken in two (six-year-olds,                        two-year-olds,

snatched at the border and carted off to god-knows-where) it's what dawns on them later:                        this isn't

some terrible rupture in the-way-the-world-is-meant-to-work it's the way it has always                        been (you can see it in

their faces) and will always be. Their eyes go flat.So that's when I had my money shot I                        filed the JPEG went back

to our dreary motel (plaid carpets!) and ordered a doublescotch. Camera in the bottom of my shoulder bag                        glad for the dark."


In the novel I love, years later, whenthe killing has not stopped but only shifted to other                        fronts the girl [End Page 4]

who of course is no longer a girl and knowsas once she had only surmised                        how much

of the wreckage is beyond repairthe girl who is older now and for a moment                        distracted turns

and with her shoulder dislodges a glass thatfalls as glasses do to the floor but just                        before the floor

on the other side of the globe the boywho of course is no longer a boy and yet                        endowed

with the grace it takes a boy to catcha fallen object, say                        a shiny piece of

cutlery, while it's still in the airextends his arm                        and does.


Of Paradise, wrote Mandeville, I cannotproperly speak, for in all my travels                        I was not there. [End Page 5]

Love Poem

Once, my very best darling, the sea                and the land were all one mass

and the light was confused and hadn't found                a place to rest. And Emma, love,

my sister's eyes were not yet there to hold it all                together since she hadn't yet been born and I

imagine though I never thought to ask them                I believe they must have been afraid,

my own poor bid at being born so nearly having                killed her, not my sister no our mother though

I see looking into your own two eyes that one                as a matter of course entails the other. And

I don't even think I can properly call it love                what I demanded what I had in mind I

wanted something mine and what you wish for if                the gods see fit to grant it marks the limits

of your soul. And though the years have scoured                the worst of what made me unfit for the gift...


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