I say sorry like
it’s a blanket or painted mask.
A dodge, a bright hot wire. It’s
my largest muscle and my fashion sense. Prayer
and penance both. Flagellation.

That is, until she said—
when I nearly bumped into her (saying sorry)—
she said, “You’re fine.”
Like I needed her permission.

What does she know of my sins, buried
as they are in sugar and manners,
a garden of kneeling and cringe.

I can lie to myself so hard,
it makes me stand up straight
in a grocery store aisle
like I belong there.

My sins are a giant
with stiff fingers, broken,
warmed by constant use. That giant
can hold your hand, look in your wet, wet eyes
and make you back down. Sorry.
I am that giant. Sorry.

I have made a meal of sloth and a nest of gluttony
and a eulogy of curses. But lust, sorry, lust
is my ark.

And that lady says, “You’re fine.”
My ship of transgressions lists in the bay of my ever-growing
days—the water, a soft bed for all I’ve committed.
That lady has no idea what the hell I’m sorry
for. I’m fine?
Fuck fine. Can’t you hear me?
I’m sorry.
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