Lisa Rhodes Ryabchich | Mercy

What if —
my mother had visited you
in your hour of distress, and
confronted the child within you? —

The proud child that stood next to her,
after she graduated from high school,
as she posed hopeful with her blue cap, and
gown on, with tassel pulled to the left.

The child you played with at Christmas,
posing in front of your family’s tree,
with silver tinsel and colored flashing lights,
gleaming like miraculous stars. Both of you

—friends together at age nine!
Would things have been different—
if she had shaken you from your depression
like a fallen leaf, spinning to its untimely death

in the autumn air— gracious like a ballet dancer
pirouetting—before suddenly landing flattened?
Would you have listened with an open heart, to
her pleas for mercy, to forgive

the feuding past, and
what troubled you both, then opened a new page
of poetry to mend all the sharp words, flung
like knives, tasting amargo on your tongues?

Could you have made homage to it? —
and taken a vow to go past it—
if she had said, “Sister, I forgive you?”

Lisa Rhodes Ryabchich is a volunteer English instructor with the University of the People and also teaches poetry and screenwriting at Westchester Community. She is the author of Opening the Black Ovule Gate (2018) and We Are Beautiful Like Snowflakes (2016), both from She has poems forthcoming or recently published in WRATH, Transcendent Zero Press Anthology, Ancient Paths, Poetry Leaves Exhibition and 2019 Anthology, SLOTH by Pure Slush The Literary Nest, Remembered Arts Journal, Breadcrumbs Magazine, I Am STRENGTH Anthology, Greed 7 Deadly Sins Vol. 3, Caligragile, Medical Literary Messenger, Obsidian, Civilized Beast Vol III, the Writers Café Magazine, The MOON magazine, Madness Muse Press: Destigmatized Anthology,, Gather Round: A Collaboration of Cave Canem Workshop and Retreat Poets, and The Journal of Poetry Therapy. She was a volunteer mentor for Pen America’s Prison Writing Program. She was also a recipient of a Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Fellowship in 2016. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Piermont, NY. 

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