Let’s play a game. You be the sitter. I’ll be four, with a younger sister and parents who have trusted you to care for us while they are at work. I remember the day you told my parents that I had been acting up all day and wouldn’t listen, and how they spanked me. Was I misbehaving? I was four. What I learned was the difference between threat and power. What I learned was that if my parents were God, you were the Hand of God with the power to strike down sinners. (My father read me the story of Ananias and Sapphira to explain lying.) Do you remember this game? These rules?
Let’s play a new game. I’ll be damaged but still here, a father to daughters. You’ll be a child molester, abuser of those in your charge. Will you repent? Will you pray for yourself this time? Except in this game I don’t believe in God so only you are left to forgive yourself.
In my imagination you forgive because you’re a monster human which is to say you are capable of justifying anything given time and motivation. Perhaps in your imagination you have spent your life mourning your choices, doing good works as penance for the harm you did to me. Perhaps you have been a better person because of this than you ever would have been otherwise. Perhaps it is movie-worthy, well, tv-movie worthy. Maybe one day I will write it, your life. Right now I write my own.
Brian Spears is the poetry editor of The Rumpus (www.therumpus.net) and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). He lives and works in Des Moines, IA. Brian Spears is the poetry editor of The Rumpus (www.therumpus.net) and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). He lives and works in Des Moines, IA.