Forgive Me by Zeina Azzam

Zeina Azzam has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest
Photo of young woman
Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash
Forgive Me

For lying to the teacher in the school yard
Talking ill of my friend behind her back

For making an excuse to leave early
while visiting my mother in her sick bed

For walking away from a lover
without explanation, running from remorse

I have felt guilty about slapping my small son’s hand
so many years ago

About acting impatient, bitter, callous,
spiteful, unfriendly, or mean with those I love

and those I don’t. These thoughts return often
like mosquitoes in summertime, ready to attack

I try to shoo them away but hear a continuous buzz
Should I let them exact blood, for penitence?

There is no peace in my ears or in my humbled heart
till I can imagine forgiveness

granting a measure of clemency
to the me in the mirror


Zeina Azzam
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, and editor. She is also a mentor for We Are Not Numbers, a writing program for youth in Gaza. Her poems appear in over two dozen literary journals and anthologies, and her poetry chapbook, Bayna Bayna, In-Between, was published in 2021. Zeina holds an MA in Arabic literature from Georgetown University.

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