A History Lesson

it was history I had not lived
fragments of other people’s woes
faces dying to tell the stories
i was reluctant to read
i did not forgive
i just didn’t want to know
and shoulder but to what avail
the pain and misgivings
of a past generation

i had traded my father’s sorrows
for Santoshi’s friendship

today i feel the betrayal
Santoshi’s people rewriting history
denying a past i had not disinherited
awash with shame
that i too had denied
my father’s right of place

by my disinheritance
he became a prisoner of his past
locked in anger, pain and futility

and by his eternal silence
i become deprived of the privilege
to finally put the ghosts to rest

can Santoshi forgive his people
as much as I cannot forgive myself

by David Leo
from iDENTiTY (2008)