Volume 28, Number 1

Drive-Through Absolution

He straddles the on ramp median in trench coat and hard hat, a bottle
of wine poking from a pocket. I catch a glimpse of him, hands raised,

hieratic, before the traffic sucks me in. Can he absolve me
without confession? Can I, retroactively, proffer one up? Forgive me,

for I have sinned, drunk from plastic bottles and discarded them,
knowing full well about the plastic vortex, albatross choked

by toothbrushes, gulls throttled by six pack yokes. I have snuck
grilled chicken and bacon despite clandestine videos of battery

caged hens and pigs with bleeding snouts. I have stereotyped nations
and peoples, albeit in frustration, after classes gone horribly wrong.

I have prostituted my craft for cash—how else can a poet raise a family?—
binged on Netflix when I should have been writing, written when I should

have been listening to my children. I have been indifferent to politics,
pretended not to be home when canvassers knocked, chosen candidates

at random. I have eschewed organic produce, scoffed at the gluten intolerant.
I have giggled at the words “trigger warning,” refused to claim my cisgender

status. I have taken to drink, stopped exercising, made comments about
death in earshot of my offspring. I have scoffed at vigils and the power

of the grassroots to bring about change. For these transgressions
and for many others, I seek absolution, whatever laying on of hands,

whatever communion. My cynicism is protective, surface scale like the
eyespots of jungle moths. Set me some penance (apart from living

in my flesh the aftermath of this election) and I will complete it, will walk
on my knees up the nearest hill, lay off the sauce until tomorrow.

O, bless me, commission me, send me on my way.

—Devon Balwit