“We shall be known by the delicacy of where we stop short.”
—Robert Frost
Forgive me if I haven’t been honest
enough. The proof’s in the poems,

those corner cobwebs snapping
under the shifting of my mind, my tongue.

They will not bear the weight
of some truths, dark and lovely.

Could I have led you to believe
I was an awful child? In the booth,

I was always tempted to tell the priest
sins I wish I had committed.

Do you think I gave in? Restraint
is overrated, and no reader wants

a litany of our loyalties to the actual.
Should I say that we crossed

one intersection after another,
never knowing when to stop short

of disaster? Look, I could be there, perched
on a telephone pole. I’d prefer

the view from that kind distance.
I am learning mercy from a poet

who respects the line, who knows
when to continue, knows when

to brave severance. He cradles
words in white spaces, clouds

of relief, letting them breathe. If only
we could hold each other like that.

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