Forgiveness and Memory

Leaving her here (with him… alone) makes my heart choke in the pumping of its own blood. But neither instinct nor logic can bring moonlight into eyes that have been shut.

She’s shaking. Not with dread (as she should), but with hope-filled pleasure fed by what lies behind the flash of his sharp teeth. A storm of stillborn action, dammed by my promise to her, thunders behind my eyeballs, threatening to flood the place with reasons why she should run.

Watching his paw possess the small of her back, I yearn for dark woods, for a cottage, and an ax. He presses his snout to her cheekbone. Not the one shadowed by purplish oozing towards green, but the one that sits under unmarred flesh… the one that’s yet to meet his love’s knuckled kiss.

I drop her running-from-his-hell bag at the threshold.

She detangles her body (but not her Self) from him, and walks to the door to hug me goodbye. “Change that face,” she whispers. “I’ve forgiven his mistake.”

I hug her tight against my chest, wanting to hide her cheekbones under my rib cage. With her fragility so close to my despair, I can’t stop the storm from gently thundering into her hair. “Forgiveness is best served with a side order of memory.”

the bright of the moon
casting shadows in winter,
shrouds man-made ruins

inspired by “Forgiveness”,
winner of the ninth Expanding Bits of Fiction and Poetry into Haibun
and linked to dVerse (Haibun Monday, 9)

Gaijin Geisha, by Shelle Kennedy“Gaijin Geisha”, by Shelle Kennedy
(The first time I saw this painting, I wondered about what thoughts could have put that look on the geisha’s face… I guess now I know.)

71 thoughts on “Forgiveness and Memory

  1. I want this expansion expanded further! I want to understand the nature of the transgression and see the moment when forgiveness went from theoretical to wholly possible.

    Also, I’ve *adored* that painting of Shelle’s the second I laid eyes on it! If it ever goes on sale, I call dibs.

    • Your greed for story makes my Muse so happy that she can squeal. Okay, she actually squealed. Like Neil Gaiman suggested (somewhere I can’t remember and on a topic that now escapes me), writers (and their muses) love to hear, “… and then what happened?”

      I think all your questions deserve answers. To be honest, I rather curious myself.

      Oh, and you should email Shelle about the painting!

    • Thank you, m’ Lori. Forgiveness is such a loaded topic. Anything written around it must walk out punching and screaming, or at least doing a lot of thinking. And Shelle’s painting had that kind of “thinking” painted (pun intended) all over her face.

  2. What a story… somehow I think of a werewolf story…. but there is an attraction here.. a danger in a relationship of sorts… forgiveness is her way to destruction, and so hard to save someone.

    • I think the shiftiness of a werewolf makes a great metaphor for deception. And let’s not forget Little Red.

      I was wondering about that, after I wrote the piece. Why is she back? Does she know what will happen? And goodness gracious, saving people from themselves is almost always a lost battle.

  3. This is sharp and I was riveted to her decision. This part struck me most:

    Not the one shadowed by purplish oozing towards green, but the one that sits under unmarred flesh… the one that’s yet to meet his love’s knuckled kiss.

    And that ending line: “Forgiveness is best served with a side order of memory.”

    A lovely haibun Magaly ~

  4. Brava! I love the expansion, but like Rommy, I want more!!! Perfect pairing with Shelle. Her eyes are so sad, as if she knows how this will end, but she needs to try. More! More!

    • I see you and Rommy have been talking, huh? LOL! I don’t think I can’t resist you both. I suspect that there will be more… soon. 😉

      And yes, I look at her eyes and wonder how many times she has done this before. It has to hurt so much known what comes next, without being able to do a thing.

  5. I raised three daughters, all happily married with children now, but this nightmare used to haunt me, for I wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself from beating such a brute into the hospital–even though perhaps my daughter would have intervened, & hated me for a time; yes, saving them from themselves, tough love–always a compromise, a battle lost.

    • I’m right with you, Glenn. When those we love are threatened, our most basic instinct are difficult to keep under control. And when a loved one leaves us without options… Well, like you said ,”a battle lost.”

  6. Ah, but maybe she has far more than two cheeks. And perhaps she’s been knocked around so much that it hardly phases her anymore. Perhaps she is more werewolf than he. I think she thrives on being beaten up at this point. If she can be jacked up, over and over again, by any number of men, and keep getting back up again, then she “wins.” And when a man finally releases that last blissful blow, the one that literally kills her, well then she’ll really win.

    Excellent work.

  7. You describe the horror of being caught in an abusive relationship so well here, and with great compassion, Magaly–how one can love a monster, no matter how many times it morphs before your eyes if one is desperate enough, or does not care enough for one’s own sacred self. I totally agree on your conclusion also–the true nature of forgiveness has nothing to do with willingly being prey.

    • There were times, when I worked as a counselor, when I stood in the shoes of the speaker… And I’ll tell you, Hedge, it was difficult not to take my client away and run away, in hope the bastard abuser would get run over by a car. I understand that once an individual has been abused for a very long time, they become too scared and blinded by their circumstances to believe that escape is possible (or to even dream of the possibility)… But to be this person’s friend, and to see them be victimized… Well, I just hope the speaker doesn’t make her ax dream a reality.

  8. And that’s what it is… forgive but to be haunted by memories… can one just turn off the memories? I don’t think so.

    Lovely piece of poetry – haibun as it is called?
    Feeling sad today… but hopeful.

    • Some things don’t go away (and I don’t think they are supposed to). We shouldn’t have to carry every horror we ever experienced, but we should never leave the lessons behind.

      I’m sorry you were feeling sad when you wrote this comment Hope all is well by now. (((♥)))

  9. I have come back to visit this raw and throbbing emotion you have presented as a haibun, more than a few times today (ahh I should have added “Forgiveness” in my vote/s, who knew I would be seduced by something I had not considered in my final choices) each time it dug a little deeper… the words… made more impact… sadness & hope, ahh so bittersweet, as is forgiveness “best served with a side order of memory”… so humbled my geisha accompanied this amazing post, it seems like she whispered her story to you xox

    • Well, that’s only fair, since I’ve visited your geisha many times. I always thought that whatever her eyes were saying hat to be terrible, felt deeply… and she didn’t have much choice in making it better. There is a harshness in the look that speaks of strength and despair… perhaps, because strength means little when you can’t use it.

      Thanks so much, my Shelle, for letting your babes whisper to me. ♥

  10. I agree with all of the above. Although I feel that this could be about a pack of ‘wolves’, with a mother protecting her ‘cub’. Love it!

    • Thank you, Kim.

      I can definitely see the speaker’s motherly traits. It takes a lot of living for a person to realize that even when everything screams “Pounce!”, one must stay still… waiting for the time to be right. And hoping that “right” will actually get home some day.

  11. You made me cry again!…. those who forgive such mistakes often forget that others that care for them are just as deeply wounded when history repeats, again and again XXX

    • Few things hurt as much as hurt by proxy. That’s one of the reason’s why I find it so difficult to stay around people who won’t love themselves. We have the right to do whatever we want with our lives, but when our living rips someone else’s apart… Well, then the time comes to make decisions… and most likely to be.

      Now stop crying and go take some pictures of your frogs for me! ((♥))

    • When I was very young, one tried it with me as well. Only once. I’m pretty sure his ribs still carry not so fun-memories of my baseball bat. It’s really difficult to see it happening to anyone… and not being able to do a thing. And yes, forgiveness is a treasure that not everybody earns… or deserves.

  12. Wow, Magaly!!! Sad, powerful. Perfect with Shelle’s painting! I want more, like Sharon and Rommy!
    (I wish Shelle could get the time to paint again! I miss her art! Even though I am blessed to have many pieces, but I want more! LOL!)

    • I can’t deny all of you, can I? I have the feeling that there will be more… sooner than I expected. 😉

      I’m adding my hopes to yours. I sooo miss Shelle’s work. I’m hoping she joins the Poetry for the Cruellest Month event. *fingers crossed*

  13. That ‘paw’ in the small of her back was such a pivotal word in this, and the Red Riding Hood allusions – intimations of savagery. Powerful, horrifying, sad. And how difficult it must be to respect someone’s right of choice to that extent.

  14. You did so well with this, Magaly. The fear (and loathing) of her would-be protector is so strong…you can FEEL the emotions so strongly. I thought of Red Riding Hood while reading this but the allusions are many in this story. I love your comment about forgiveness being served with a side order of memory…oh, yes!

    • Thank you, Gayle.

      I agree with you. The “loathing” runs hot in this piece. Even as I wrote it, I could feel the speaker’s rage mixed with a mess of pure helplessness. When it comes to forgiveness, I think this kind of things are too much forget (and many times, too much to forgive”.

  15. I have seen that look on a loved ones face so much in the past year. That despair that oozes from the tightness around the eyes and drags the corners of the mouth toward the ground where withered dreams lie like leaves fallen from a dying tree. My gods, these words and that painting together…chilling. I have tears in my eyes right now.

  16. Magaly, thank you for drawing me into your haunted, beautiful world. This piece is breathtaking. I’ve been wrangling with forgiveness myself these past few days, realizing that while I need desperately to offer it in order to find inner peace, that doesn’t mean I must continue to subject myself to the cruelty, which must be carefully stored in that side order of memory. Thank you for being today’s synchronicity!

    • Forgiveness is a complex thing. So many things must be considered before we can even decide if forgiveness is a good idea. And like the speaker in the poem, I, too believe that forgiveness should never be given without memory. Doing so marks the closest path towards committing the same mistake in the future.

      I’m so glad you found the reading helpful. ♥

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