If. That’s all, really:
if. It all comes from
if, comes down to if.
Go sit outside
and look at one last
If you had never
seen one before,
would you feel this same sadness,
would you still ache with its loveliness
and say to yourself,
There’s your sleeping child.
What if they’d never been born?
If that spot where they sprawl
on the couch were unfilled,
would you turn so quickly away
as you do now and go forward
You can’t even say
what’s on your mind.
If you could…
would you dare to?
Will you dare to?
Look at the pile of work, the poems
and essays and wrong-directed
manuscripts you long claimed
would be your legacy
if anyone were to find it. Now
that you are afraid they will find it —
if you burned it in the fire pit
out back, if you then drenched
and stirred the ashes until they were
dense black mud, if you did all that
would you exist for long afterward
in the minds of the few
who knew your work?
If there were only
a wooden match in the house,
if there were gasoline in the garage,
if only the house was emptier,
if only the night were noisier to hide
the sound of, the sound of…
In the dark at last, the sunset over,
the child asleep, the firepit full,
what was the first “if”
that sent you here? What choice
did you make that created
There isn’t a moment to spare.
Overhead the stars whirl slowly by,
a machine without choice. It is all
as it should be so if you go ahead
and follow through, that will be
the last if, and isn’t that perfect?
Fill your hand with certainty,