The Penitent

Standing Alone
The snow is falling. There he stands
Or kneels – chaffing his frigid hands.
A summer tunic wraps his form
Yet hardly keeps his body warm.
He is The Penitent – and seeks
On his frozen cheeks
His tears are turned to brittle ice.
He is alone – though once or twice
Across the courtyard passes one
They all avoid him. Thus begun
His penance.
But what was his crime?
Who knows? The falling snows of time
Have covered all this memory.
He begs forgiveness. But will he
Receive it from the hearts of men?

Easier it were to ken
The languages of every tongue
The deeds of every hero sung
The numbers of the grains of sand
Than get forgiveness from the hand
Of those self-righteous arrogant
Who never will themselves repent.

Thus we must leave him in the snow
Our Penitent of long ago.

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