Poem | 'Floating on the Lehigh'

So I wouldn’t forget even one of the sins
from the Table in my prayer book, I wrote them down
and recited them from a notebook page

I unfolded in the confessional, squinting to rea
in that tight, dim space, the priest straining to remain patient.
On the way home, my pocket burning with sins,

I ripped the page into the smallest possible pieces
and released them from the bridge, watching them
drift life confetti from high windows

onto the same river that washes over my pale body
this August afternoon sixty years later.
Called in as I stood on its banks,

I stripped and waded out to a deep pool,
dove and rose, lay on my back
staring into the dazzle of light.

A weight I was unaware of bearing
carried away,
I floated on the forgiving water.

Published in the August 12, 2016 issue: 

Paul Martin’s poems have appeared in America, Boulevard, New Letters, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, Southern Poetry Review, and Tar River. His book, Closing Distances, was published by The Backwaters Press. His chapbook, Floating on the Lehigh, won the 2015 Grayson Books Chapbook Contest, and another, Rooms of the Living, was co-winner of the Autumn House Press Chapbook Prize.

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