Broken Promises By David Kirby: Reading and Meditations

October 25, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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It’s difficult to untangle the yarn-roll of commitment. How do we differentiate promises, expectations, resolutions, a sense of reliability or trust? How quickly we—or I at least; I assume I am not alone—commit to doing something and then immediately forget it. There are the formal promises we make to others; sometimes they love us despite our inability to honor them. The formal commitments we make to ourselves are more slippery—because we offer them in private, where we ourselves are the only ones to hear, they are perhaps less formal. Who is the other “I” who will enforce my private promises? In this poem by David Kirby, broken promises scurry around us, reminding us of our frailty. When I’m chastened by those pesky reminders, all of the promises I’ve kept seem insignificant. What are the little promises I’ve broken to myself? What do I do to live up to them? Or should I never have made them in the first place? And what measure of forgiveness may I give myself for those self-betrayals? Broken promises elude us, though we encounter them everywhere.


Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado

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