Saturday, April 05, 2014

Second Thoughts

This is a very old poem. It's the title poem from my second collection, which was accepted, once upon a time, by a publisher who went out of business immediately thereafter and was never heard from again. It appeared in Whiskey Island.

If only I had gone to school in Boston,
flown east instead of west. If only I
had studied medicine instead of English,
dressed for the day in tie and stethoscope,
if only I had let myself be drafted
and seen the bodies stacked up at Pleiku,
if only this, if only that, if I
had let that first pregnancy go to term,

today I should be sitting in a room
like this, my head not clear, my hand alert
to what it holds, and I should hear the cardinal
calling the late June morning to observe
that he's already up, and I'd be thinking

if only I had gone to school in Denver,
flown west instead of east, if only I
had been a novelist and not a doctor,
then I should say, hearing the sparrows chirp,

it would be all the same, even if I
had gone to school at Cambridge, learned to say
"shed-ule," and come to like my lager warm,
till, feeling a sudden numbness in my shoulder,
I'd wonder how it would have been if I
had only gone to school in California.

1 comment:

Radish King said...

I think you are so deeply present in this poem that it's moving even knowing the narrator or speaker is the poem not YOU you but there it is. I love it. Maybe that's what I should have written. I love this poem because it's so inhabited.