The Poet Asks Forgiveness

Dead to the world I have failed you
Forgive me, traveller.
Thirsty, I was no fountain
Hungry, I was not bread
Tired, I was no pillow
Forgive my unwritten poems:
the many I have frozen with irony
the many I have trampled with anger
the many I have rejected in self-defence
the many I have ignored in fear
unaware, blind or fearful
I ignored them.
They clamoured everywhere
those unwritten poems.
They sought me out day and night
and I turned them away.
Forgive me the colours
they might have worn
Forgive me their eclipsed faces
They dared not venture from
the unwritten lines.
Under each inert hour of my silence
died a poem, unheeded

Fay Zwicky, “The Poet Asks Forgiveness” text from Kaddish, University of Queensland Press, 1982; audio from The Witnesses, Audio CD, 2010: by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 1982, 2010 by Fay Zwicky.
Source: Kaddish (University of Queensland Press, 1982)
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