On Forgiveness

It’s a simpler matter when you’ve known
the feeling of bringing nations of men to their knees.

When you’ve emptied entire nurseries of firstborns;
fed years to the locusts, then locusts to the lips of John—

carcasses of the surplus whispering across desert
sand like chambermaids in David’s castle.

I too could cast a man’s deeds into the Sea
of Sin No More; drop stones like roses at his feet.

Power makes one gracious. Power makes one
easy. Even Lionel could rise from his bed

of charms unharmed; Al would never learn
to loathe the smell of grits like burning flesh.

Yes, I’d lay down the knife and wipe my eyes
as if I were slicing onions for a meal,

dance daintily across a kitchen floor
to the tune of “Let’s Stay Together.” No,

I would not begrudge my lover’s trip to Damascus
if I could blind him on his way there.

Destiny O. Birdsong is a Pushcart-prize nominated poet whose poems have either appeared or are forthcoming in African American Review, At Length, Indiana Review, Rove, and elsewhere. Her critical work recently appeared in African American Review, and a co-authored chapter on Black Atlantic and Diaspora Literature (with Ifeoma C. K. Nwankwo) is forthcoming in the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature. Destiny is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, has received fellowships from Cave Canem and BinderCon, and residencies from Pink Door and the Ragdale Foundation. She is currently a research coordinator at Vanderbilt University, where she received her MFA in 2009, and her PhD in 2012.

Destiny O. Birdsong Poet

Nashville, TN