NOTES ON GUILT

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

guilt guilt

the beating of defective hearts.

*

Forgive me, all whom I have sinned against.
Forgive me.

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.

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