for Richard

The sky is not blue
Not robin's egg or startling pure
rim of lapis lazuli
It is an angry grey,
Unpolished steel still hot from the forge
ready to slice across my skin.
The point of this sky-blade
rests against my heart which still beats
despite all of my years of penance.
The penitent is never beautiful.
I do not have that to offer you
And when you turned away from my kiss
I was not surprised
Although there was a moment's worth of hope
And in that moment the sky was pure
(not forged).

Even after years of penance
of Ave Marias or wandering
We can be rendered children with wonder
and reach unthinkingly towards something we want --
without once understanding that
we may not be wanted.
And I had forgotten that though sometimes wise
(although foolish)
I am unlovely.
And wanting you badly enough to risk
Hell or damnation or your laughter
I reached and reached out --
Until I remembered the truth of contrition,
the pentitent is never beautiful
and I did not have that to offer you.

--Evil Catullus