The Thing about Guilt
It’s not what they would have had us believe as children.
It doesn’t feel the way you think it will around your neck,
will not come running like the good cop after a bad choice,
to break you down with a kind look and restore you
to your better self.
Like on college break, when I made promises to God,
to be good to the poor and needy, if I saw any. I carried cash,
Christmas presents, and a suitcase full of second-hands;
I waited for the longest hour in a cold New Jersey
train station. The poor and needy
closed in, their smiles a blur as I stretched the truth,
“Sorry, no change.” Then they were gone in a gasp,
and my bags, cash, presents, ideals. What remained
was the shame of not being ready – to give,
to let go, to keep. Years later,
when the bad cop caught up, guilt abandoned me
in a way station of my own making. I felt many things,
but not shame. I buried bodies, watered soil, and now
look: a world blooms, spare change falls
in ripe heaps from wild trees.
with the hound,
his nose full of friends
Your unexpected ringtone
on my iPhone:
That ache in my throat:
I still have not
Kelly Belmonte’s poetry has been published in Atlas Poetica and Relief Journal: A Christian Literary Expression and her two chapbooks, Three Ways of Searching and Spare Buttons, are available through Finishing Line Press. Her poem “How I Talk to God” was selected by poet and editor Malcolm Guite for inclusion in Word in the Wilderness: Poem a day for Lent and Easter (Canterbury Press, 2014). Kelly frequently collaborates with the Muses at allninemuses.wordpress.com.