Trailing clouds of guilt, we mosey across
the landscape of our days. Would we be free
if we were perfect?
The inflection of relationships is based on guilt:
I feel guilty.
You should feel guilty.
We all are guilty.
Guilt is the legacy I will leave behind
as each generation before left it for their sons.
There’s an equation:
my father’s guilt
= my guilt towards him
= equals my guilt towards my son
and so on and so on.
And so on.
Unresolved guilt, undetected guilt—
these, we know, fester,
while open guilt, denounced guilt, confessed guilt
are proclaimed, punished, suffered through
on a stage, in a newspaper,
at family gatherings.
Ingmar Bergman on his children and marriages:
“I had decided that a guilty conscience was
an affectation, because my torment could never
make up for the damage I had done.”
Thus a master handles guilt.
Guilt is the glue holding families together.
Guilt breeds acts of kindness.
Guilt is a wellspring of creativity.
The child stealing coins from the purse,
the dieter adding a gooey cupcake
to the expensive healthy lunch,
the worker dozing at the computer screen,
those who ignore cries at night:
guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt
Say it enough and it’s the gobbling
of a large, stupid bird
guilt guilt guilt
the sucking of drainpipes
the beating of defective hearts.
Forgive me, all whom I have sinned against.
This doesn’t mean I’m ready to forgive
your sins against me—
I need to first hear the music of your groveling
but you can try.