November 11, 2020KR OnlinePoetry

Even America’s Dearest Underdog; Forgiveness, Perhaps

Even America’s Dearest Underdog

I start class asking about everyone’s weekend, and one girl says she’s obsessed with this raccoon but I have no idea what she’s talking about so together the whole class directs me into the Twitterverse for clips and snaps and lo and behold a racoon is shimmying up a concrete building, arms and legs splayed to find impossible clawholds between the twelfth and thirteenth floor windows while all of St. Paul then the country then our classroom is cheering her on as she presses her whole body against the glass on twenty-third for any kind of reprieve and only now do experts start asking what would possess a racoon to climb to such concrete heights and the Twitterverse can’t help responding because we all need a win like Jon Snow scaling the Wall which is a metaphor for his loyalty to the red-headed lover and her Wildling people even though some of them are trying to cut him loose and I am about to comment to my students that maybe this St. Paul raccoon is working toward something just as noble but then I think of the glass wall that the forty-fifth is trying to build and I remember, too, that just last week these same students told me that racism is black and white and clear and doesn’t exist for brown and yellow and every unnoticeable fade in between and now the authorities are picking up the raccoon from the roof and putting her in a cat carrier from the animal trap and carting her off to no one knows where and all I can hear is the newscaster saying don’t worry, we got her, we caught her when she made it to the top.


Forgiveness, Perhaps

Chrysanthemums blading open,
bell hollow round a sheep’s neck,
ram horn blood-warm and curled.

In Old English “forgiveness” is “to abandon.”
In this way, we were forgiven.


Instead of 자비, nearly mercy, 나비, butterflying
daughter-tongue always blurred and shearing into war.

Again. Again.

In Korean, forgiveness is 용서 where perhaps
용 is the dragon and 서 is the first thing done
so the second may be accomplished.

Again. Again. Again, brutal shepherd.