Friday, February 12, 2010

Shedding the Coat of Shame

A Pass
By Julia Kasdorf

Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive
, I softly recite

among strangers, remembering
the hand of an older man

gliding up my thin dress.
I twist free of him,

keep speaking as if he is just
a rich family friend chatting.

and I am still safe
in the shape of my skin.

Of course, it sets me back,
as each death resurrects

the memory of all other deaths,
and you must return to mourn

your full store of passings afresh.
A child cannot be accused

of seducing a neighbor man,
but as the girl grows, the bones

of her cheeks and pelvis jut
like blades beneath her skin,

gorgeous weapons of revenge.
At last, the lusts of those

who trespass against us bear
some resemblance to our own:

shame and rage, heavy as coins
sewn in the lining of an exile's coat.

When an immigrant ship went down
in Lake Erie, passengers who refused

to shed their heavy garments
drowned, yards from shore.

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