Paul Connolly: ‘No Atonement’

No Atonement

He wondered why atonement didn’t work.
He logged the efforts of each dramatised
legation, but she remained anaesthetised
to his entreaties. He wondered. Should he shirk,

bunk off classes in the hard calculus
he’d set himself, where every injury
was weighed, quit, surpassed, more than offset? Each
and every gift he gave her, all the fuss

dissolved in recollection, never matched
what sat between them. That. And that was what,
a mound of pain, or an ever-seeping slot
he’d carved across her? He carried on, splashed

more cash on holidays, and made her cry
her clapped-out affect of joy. So they learned
hurt’s boundlessness, but lied to live, and earned
uneasy armistice, their own Versailles.

Paul Connolly

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