Jasmine V. Bailey

The Lover

Ah, the things you didn’t choose—that tomato,

the green dress, some countries, one summer. It’s a tease,

the perfect tilt of a hat the wind would never crumble

or a careless friend let dissolve in rain while he laughed at a parade.

Lady Chatterley is good, but Women in Love

would have surely been better—at the only game you didn’t attend,

your nephew finally made a goal, and that concert

that sounded dull and far, Woodstock, you definitely should have gone to.

And what you did instead, the walk in the rain,

the quiet dinner under the dogwood,

was just plain stupid, you idiot. How could you

have cut your hair, long as Chile, that we all coveted?

Or—all the boys were after you until you grew

your hair out. It makes you look like a plant.

If you had had that birthmark removed when you

were eleven, as your mother suggested, you might

be married now, but the scar you hid under a glove

could have softened the man you chased, if he’d only seen it.

After all, he was the one you really loved, not these you’ve wasted

the years on, the one good bloom you get—see how it rises off your skin

like heat in a mirage and moves skyward—a stray balloon

tickling birds the color of persimmons.



“The Lover” first appeared in Cimarron Review and is from Disappeared (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017).