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Forgive me father for I have not

cupped your face like the body

of water I once drank from,

nor have I ever desired to

exile myself in your arms. Whose sin

is this anyway, and why

does my tongue bless the roof

of my mouth when I say

the word sin? This is not

even about belief. I know you

are as real as the son

you’ve neglected

to forsake. But I have only you

to worship. You are my father,

and I am as man-made

as any lake in Pennsylvania.

If there is some creed

to this confession,

the miracle is this: one January night,

the ice was so thick

I walked across the Delaware

without fear of falling through it.

Even though the reflection

of the moon had frozen

solid, it was already dissolving

in the mouth of the river.


ERIN JIN MEI O'MALLEY lives in Philadelphia. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Redivider, Wildness, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, and others. They have received a scholarship from the Lambda Literary Foundation and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. You can find them at


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