Free Will demands punishment:
me for clumsy crimes
and petty acts
at wits end;
back and forth
with the rope’s creak.
It did not concern me
to be hung -
coming from a tree
I was used to the feel
I will admit
that hanging there
gave time for thought.
I regretted the hurt
to Geppetto who, (in my imagination)
stood below, his teary eyes raised
as if I
a mysterious sacrifice (in truth
he was not allowed to visit,
the villagers fearing he might take an axe
can cut me down again).
My breath exited,
I found though
had kept some sort of consistency
with distant roots
while my twitching fingers
returned to being leaves.
I spread out;
soaked in the world
became the preoccupation of those
who hung me.
When they cut me down (again)
I ran to Geppetto’s arms that opened
as if he was a door closed for too long
but finally, seeing the spring sun
had come knocking, let the day back in.
Embraced by those arms, I wept
tears as thick as sap; as into his chest
I promised that I’d do better
if he granted me a second chance.
His aging hands touched my brow
as he smiled, his lips parting,
his yellow teeth appearing like the stamen
displayed by the unfolding flower.
‘Second chances are for the religious,’
He said, ‘for us two, we must make do
accepting our mistakes and returning,
as you have done, to try anew.’
We stood a while…long enough that I feared
we might both take root, become two trees entwined
and lost in a stillness I did not wish to return to.
I moved apart and said with a smile, ‘anyway Papa,
it is good to be back.’
We laughed and Geppetto took down my bowl
from the shelf and prepared dinner
and in my head it soon seemed as if I had never left;
had never hung from the scaffold tree
and so took another step back in the same direction —
not knowing that the past is the best teacher we can have
if we but listen to what it tries to teach us.