Penance by Jessica Whyte


She keeps a surfeit of compassion
in a shoebox,
slips it from a shelf
regurgitates the day’s gatherings
before they tighten in her lungs
like a bloom of tear gas,
her fingers held in little, careful fists.

In the small hours the box thrums
pocket-heavy with sacrifice.
She sleeps soundly,
spent with the surge of other people’s loss,
floating on a sea of boxes
stuffed under the floorboards,
seething with suffering and should-haves,
gifts she will never give.


Jessica Whyte is a freelance writer with an English & Creative Writing degree from Manchester Metropolitan University. She is trained to use creative writing for wellbeing in community settings. She is a published writer of short stories and poetry and is currently working on her first poetry pamphlet and a novel. She tweets @whyte_jessica

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