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).