But having a clean slate is frameless. There are no borders to seek a new start (well, there are, but they are all in your head). A clean slate is infinite. You turn left, you start anew; you turn right, you start anew; step forward, you start anew; and even if you step backwards, you are staring back with new eyes, reflecting rather than drowning on your past mistakes.
When my mom was in school, she had a clean slate every morning because the day before, she wiped it clean.
She would show up for school with her bucket-full of wood, as would all the other students, in order to keep the classroom warm while the teacher taught the various grades. But once the embers died and the sunlight had faded, each student would be charged to wipe off their slates and for the new day of learning that awaited them.
Ah, the advantages of a clean slate.
I wish the mind worked just as well.
About Clean Slate
In case you haven’t noticed, I write my poems before I write the introduction to them, so what was on my mind when I put thoughts to words sets me up for explaining them later.
And such it was with Clean Slate.
Seeking forgiveness of those we’ve hurt, well, it hurts. We have to open wounds, scrub them clean, disinfect them, bandage them up and wait for them to heal. And all the while, we have to do the same for the cuts and bruises we’ve inflicted on others, otherwise, more will surface like boils, lesions and hives, until they spread through our entire bodies and those we have reacted with.
Clean Slate is a story of seeking that repentance. I say repentance, rather than forgiveness, because as we all know, you can ask for forgiveness for an act and then turn right around and do the same horrible thing again. Repentance is doing a 180: a reversal in behaviour because you’ve recognized the way you’ve been doing things for years is wrong.
There are many things I’ve done in the past that I strived to repent for, and am still striving. The aim, for me, is that clean slate; that new beginning — each day, each moment, each breath. Dust blows away, after all, and when the chalk marks are so deep even a breeze cannot move them, sweat, tears, water does.
Clean Slate by Karen Petkau
I scaled the rocky-pebbled shore in search of pools so deep
To drown my ever-growing pain from promises I didn’t keep
I fall down on my red-scabbed knees and scratch the skin with stone
And bow before the rippled-waves as they roll onto the shore
I cry into my blistered hands and sob like a child just born
For all the heartache that I’ve caused to those for years I’ve scorned
Thistles poke at my red-raw skin and I realize I’m still alive
I look up to the azure blue and see the white-swirled sky
How long I’ve laid my sorrows out, I know not anymore
But peace has entered my threaded heart and nailed me to the floor
I cannot move these thistled bones and raise the locked-in limbs
And so I fear I will no more be a burden to my kin
The nightfall comes with the rushing breeze that whistles in the trees
I hear the creatures of the blackened night whispering about me
I lay down upon the pebbled ground and rest my head on rocks
The coldness of their pool-smoothed skin freeze me like a block
I close my eyes and deep in thought, I free my soul to go
And leave me in this hallowed ground where grass refused to grow
The warmth of the rising sun heats my ice-cold cheek
And I rise with the strength of a reborn babe in search of nourishment
I walk down the hillside path, leaving the pool behind
And peace befalls my once-hardened heart and a clean slate is left in kind