Ladies In Waiting

Waiting on Words

Beyond Black and White

For Sunday Scribblings #232  Clean

This poem was written several years ago and never published. It came to mind when I saw the prompt for Sunday Scribblings.

Beyond Black and White

She asked me if she must
forgive him, that grandfather
man, who left his mark
in blackening bruises,
on her once small child’s body.

I thought of the nun, in her
black and white habit, finger
pointing at our small upturned
faces, as she explained
how sin left its stain
in ever-deepening black shadows
on a precious white soul.

She asked me again,
“Must I forgive him?”

I said, “No.”

Elizabeth Crawford  9/19/10


  1. Oh my that is so well written and so good, the last line is just as it should be …well done!

    • Deborah, when I first wrote this poem, I thought I might get some flack for that last statement, but it was this incident and others like it, that helped me to understand the whole issue of forgiveness and how it must come in its own time, and for its individual reasons. Thank you for commenting,


  2. He can’t be forgiven. You did right.

    my monkey reads you well

    And don’t forget to aboard the Poetry Train every Monday mornings and thereafter to post your work!

    • Gautami, thank you for that statement. I don’t know if she ever did forgive, but have always hoped that she would recognize that any forgiveness would be meant for her own heart’s resolution, certainly not his.


  3. What other answer could you give? Forgiveness can’t be forced, in any case…

    Good poem.

    • Thank you Ruth, and I can only hope that someday others will come to know the truth in your words.


  4. lovely done!

    • Jingle, I don’t know that lovely is a word I would attach to this piece. Although it came quite quickly and with a bit of forcefulness, it created an inner struggle for me and my own history. It took a while to fully understand exactly what it meant. But, I find that with a lot of poetry, it comes from deep inside me and wants to be heard, by me more than anyone else. And that is one of the major reasons I don’t toss any of it away. Someday it will come clear and so will I. Thanks for commenting,


  5. A powerful and thought provoking piece.

    • Susannah, that it has been. It certainly helped me clarify several things, including the concept that political is personal and its opposite. And I love it when my poetry reaches inside my own soul and being and teaches me what I need to know.
      Thanks for the comments,


  6. this has to be the perfect scribbling for this week!

    so goooood!

    better clean than careful

    • Thank you for that vote of encouragement and support Divaa. This one has a history, but has finally come full circle.


  7. KB

    This reminds me of someone I know, someimes you have to forgive to move on, it doesn’t mean you are saying what was done was OK. Very difficult situation. Thanks for sharing.

    • KB, yes sometimes one can’t move on until one forgives, but I figured that if she was asking, she wasn’t yet ready to do so. In such a situation, there is much healing and resolving that must take place. We each do that in our own time and manner. And telling someone they must forgive, can be more harm placed upon already hurting areas. Although I did tell her ‘no’, at the time, I also told her that she would know when that was right for her. She immediately relaxed and told me more of her story. And that, I believe, is exactly what she needed to do. Sometimes, we can only tell it in pieces.


  8. I’m glad you let this poem go Elizabeth. Seems you did find the right time for yourself, just as this poem also alludes. Forgiveness, in that greater sense, is not something really in our hands anyway (depending some on a person’s sense of what it was that the Son of Man was about). But in its more personal meaning, yes, so very much, one has to be able to say “no” to also have the ability to say “yes” when that understanding arrives. (No freedom otherwise.) And like with poems too – to let loose the wayward child, the lesser words, the doubts, uncertainties, because then – one truth allows another to live.

    And pardon (if my words disagree with anyone’s beliefs) but I think this is precisely the stance of the Spirit in existence. We are allowed our foolish ways at times, but that light is never refused to anyone, be it one who does harm or one who does not yet see forgiveness.

    Your poem states that simply and unconditionally. Just right to say. Not even a black-sheep in any regard I think. Two images clearly drawn, and one direct response.

    • Thank you, Neil. And I think the point you make is a very good one. Having worked, close up and personal with many women, I would have to say now, that my response might vary depending on all kinds of other factors. What I knew of the person and her reality etc. Each situation, calls for its own response. Something that is called into the energy of the moment itself. And that, probably more than anything is what made me hesitate to let go of the poem. I also think that my first feeling of dis-quiet, was something that came up automatically because it was directly related to the writing of the words.

      Thank you for your far-reaching and wise words,


  9. I think it’s about being true to yourself and your feelings. They might well change over time but there’s no point trying to pretend to oneself or anyone else something that just isn’t true.

    • Flying Monkey, and I certainly agree. I was brought up to believe that forgiveness was paramount, that to not forgive was to sin. And I watched that cripple a lot of people who felt they had to dismiss their own pain in order to comply. And like I said earlier, that only creates far more pain, confusion, and needless sorrow where those things are already present and festering.

      A very wise woman sort of summed it up for me while we were having a discussion about the issue of forgiveness. She told me that perhaps it might be wise to pray for the willingness to forgive, and that if that was too difficult, the willingness to be willing. I’ve never forgotten what she was saying because it made me laugh. Oh, and she was a Catholic nun, as well.

      Thanks for coming back and reading,


      • That was indeed incredibly wise advice from that nun. It allows you to try and change while remaining truthful to who you are and where you are in your journey.

  10. I do not know all the places you are. I first read your other write, and of course had to come to read the poem. I find your words so well chosen and so wise. And I thank you for that. Now I must go to read the comments.

  11. Annell, up at the top of this page, on the sidebar is a list of my four sites, two for poetry, two for prose with different focuses. Those are also listed on the other sites. I had to do that because I was answering so many prompts it got sort of jammed up, lol. And I’m not at all surprised that you would find agreement with this poem. You are a sensitive woman and it shows. Thank you for all of the comments, I love it when people feel at ease enough to respond conversationally,


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