by Anthony Frame
We never wanted to be this way, we had hoped for
a breath of air, a chance to stretch our legs, to learn
how to fly, freshness like honeysuckle in the lungs
we weren't made to own. We try but it's always
the same, skipped beats and chairs shattered to the floor.
Forgive us, father, mother, god. We hoped for wind
but can only find veins, bones, tears that never turn
into rivers. And were we fast enough, faster than oceans,
faster than hearts, maybe then we could outrun the sirens.
Maybe then you'd take us to waterfalls instead of churches
and schools. The voices you hear are yours alone;
we were made mute, rageless and without the capacity
to sob. It was your fingers that pierced the leg, that filled
the skull with ash and soot. Forgive us, mother, for hoping,
for praying to finally hear music, a waltz where we can twist
and spin at will. And what do we know about god except
that he loaded us, that his hands shivered, that his fingernails
were chipped but clean. That he, like us, envied the goldfinch
it's freedom. If he sang us to life, he also gave us to you but you
refused to let us dance. You whispered our names and we prayed,
no, not like this. Teach us about fields, valleys, gardens and pistils,
a sky so wide we'll never be able to touch anything. Show us
the stars so we'll no longer long to mimic them. Forgive us, father,
we've waited so long, bound in boxes, listening to bird songs,
though we've always known all we’ll know is burst and flash,
a hair-thin trigger. We wanted feathers but you gave a tail of smoke
and ash too soft to see. Forgive us our love of lakes we can't stop
dreaming about. Forgive us, god, for our weakness before you.
Anthony Frame is an exterminator from Toledo, Ohio, where he lives with his wife. He is the author of A Generation of Insomniacs and of three chapbooks, most recently To Gain the Day. He is the editor/publisher of Glass Poetry Press and the managing editor for The Indianola Review. His poetry has appeared in Third Coast, Harpur Palate, Boxcar Poetry Review, Muzzle Magazine and Verse Daily, among others, and he has twice been awarded Individual Excellence Grants from the Ohio Arts Council. He hates bedbugs, loves ants, and needs about seven more hours in each day in order to read all the chapbooks he buys.