I constantly mouth the words “I’m sorry” without hearing whether the syllables ever actually find voice. I hate those words, their slimy, viscous texture; they are a snake oil that I use to manipulate or to persuade. In an effort to avoid being considered cruel or unkind, I am forced to gargle the mealy feel of insincere apologies and wonder if I used them correctly. If I say them at the right softness or smooth them into everyday actions or to cover up a thought that has trailed away, hopefully they will prove to be the talisman promised to ward against the possibility that I might in fact be black-souled. Unfortunately, the weakness and dishonesty of the whole repeated act makes me feel even more that I don’t mean it; in fact, I resent whoever it is to whom I have to pay those stupid words.
I do know their power, however, which is why I gouge that phrase from others who are desperate to give it to me. I recognize that, at the core, I am cruel and unkind and it makes me sharp and brutal enough so others can give me their apologies like prayers. I am the unmoving, unknowable oracle and you look to see the tear from my stony eyes as proof of blessing. You do not realize that it is I who watch you weep daily on your knees, prostrate in your need for my restraint. While I might falsely whisper “I’m sorry” like cultural currency, it is you who throw yourself against the rocks of my false immutability, hoping to break the cliff you have made of me.