The One Where Zuko And I Are Shitheads And Our Uncle/Aunt Forgives Us Anyway

We act in our own self interest

reclaiming the things that are supposed to be ours.

For him, honor.

For me, my dog, who I stuff in my car at 3am

and leave a note on the table

then vanishing for seven years.

We both hurt the people who love us,

we both commit our actions with the knowledge it will hurt them,

and do it anyway. 

Zuko at least had the bravery to say “I’m sorry” to his uncle’s face

while I bite my tongue at every interval I see my aunt at,

each time she asks if I’ve eaten,

each time she reminds me I’m not getting any younger,

each time I tell her I love her and hug her goodbye.

The apology hides in the enamel of my teeth

until I sit at her beside,

wrapped in plastic,

and finally say, please forgive me,

I’m so so sorry.

And it is too late for her to answer back.

When my cousins and I pack up the house,

they tell me

I was always her favorite. 


Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. She is the author of the chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week. Their work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

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