By Patricia McMillen

is a hard woman insisting I spend
New Year's Day writing an apology to her boyfriend

for things I don't recall saying the night before, and if I did --
hell, he was drunk too; holding up my karma as if she had

a direct line, knew even half
the things I've done wrong: breezing past Salv-

ation Army Santas, my pockets full of quarters; that day
I told the boss I was sick but just wanted to stay

home and watch TV; the sheepdog pup
I kicked. Forgiveness -- ah,

forgiveness: how I wish her love were sap
that never stopped flowing, that I could tap

her like a maple tree in winter, set
my empty bucket at an angle, let

not a single drop of her sweetness run
off, flow away, across the frozen ground.

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