Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

on the b-side of love
a song of mercy—
sweet groove of forgiveness,
beat of a thousand
soft wings

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In the Current

I pin him, my boy,
on his back on the floor
in the late morning sun
in the quiet kitchen
and hold him there
in the warm orange light
beneath my weight
and threaten to tickle
his belly, his sides,
and I know that he knows
that if he says stop, I
will stop, but oh,
the sweetness of what if,
how it ripens in these seconds
right before the plunder
that doesn’t happen,
our eyes locked and bright,
the morning a boat
we delight in rocking,
knowing that even if it capsizes
we both know how to swim.

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Mama, she says, tickle me mercifully.
We both know that this means that when she says stop,
I stop. We begin. I plunder her sides, her ribs,
the tender spot above the knee—she writhes and giggles—
her feet, her belly, beneath her chin, oh such sweet
and terrible vulnerability. Stop! She shouts, and I stop.
But my pointer finger and thumb still bend at the knuckle tips,
ready to start up the game again.
It takes only seconds before she’s caught her breath,
and it’s squirm and wriggle, wriggle, twist,
I pause, I tickle her armpits, she thrashes
and struggles and giggles and squeals and says, Stop!

I think of times I have wanted to shout, Stop! for myself,
for others, for strangers, for friends, when the world goes too far
and the pain is too great. And the stones are thrown and the bodies
are burned and the borders are crossed and the cries
are unheard and where, where is the mercy?

Tickle me more, she says, when my fingers are quiet too long.
And I tickle her, tickle her mercilessly until she is done
with the game. And then it is over, except it is not,
as those of us know who have lived beyond
the times when we’ve said stop, and the world’s gone on.

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