#poem #poetry #poetics #forgiveness


Outside my therapist’s office, three men are planting ferns,
pruning bushes, cutting back the tangled vines
that twine across the building’s bricks, covering them in green,

and when I reach the door one of them has risen,
and nods his head, and it seems a nod that verges
on pity, as if he’s seeing

into the room I’ll enter to empty myself of grief
and wants to offer 
one gesture before turning back to the roses,

a projection I should share 
but never will. Inside, I settle
in the chair across from her, the woman

I see each week despite my fear of being seen. 
Have you thought over,
she asks, what we talked about last time? She’s trying 

to get me to forgive
myself. She wants to free me
of the song

I play over and over
in my mind, which governs
every part of me: nerves,


I sing
myself my sins:
Clear, dry gin.

The man I loved (my roving
heart). The fringes
that I occupied. My father

in his hospital bed and I 
too late. What severing
it must take to let this go.

And now she says, moving a little closer to the edge
of her chair, really seeing
me, or

wanting to, I had a patient once,
in a place far from here, who,
in the impenetrable fog

of her disorders, and guided by some sick version
of herself, killed her three little sons.
And when she came

to see me, after the fever
of her sin
had burned the memory to fine

dust, she didn’t even
know what she had done.
And I had to decide—do I 

tell her what she did? And now an ambulance goes
by outside. I follow the noise
of its thin siren

dragging itself down the street until it’s gone,
and those men, I suppose, are finishing
their work, satisfied by having given

life to that garden, and the garden, content
in being tended to, everything green
and free

to bloom. She says:
I didn’t tell her.

Chelsea Bunn is the author of the chapbook “Forgiveness” (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her work appears in Maudlin House, Apathy Magazine, The Ellis Review, Cover, The Big Windows Review, Sooth Swarm Journal, Dogwood, and other journals and anthologies. She earned her MFA in Poetry and her BA in English at Hunter College in New York, and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing for the BFA program at Navajo Technical University. You can learn more about her here: chelseabunn.com