[“It could have happened” from “Could Have” in Wislawa Szymborska Poems New and Collected]
It could have happened if I hadn’t said anything.
I had a bad feeling. But thought for once make
a stand. She traveled south for an hour and I
didn’t know. Next thing word gets out. By then
I’d made my decision and things were never
the same. I was never one for control but is that
true? Maybe what I really mean is never
one for being out of control. And what I said
well forget it. What she heard was don’t come
when I don’t feel like it. So he felt like it.
And she felt like it. Hey there’s a pattern.
And today on social media I saw his face
how many years later? 53 years? What
am I on about? Oh yes. It could have.
But it didn’t. That’s the other side of every
crossroads, right? We go on our way
with no regrets. This is dangerously close
to what if. What if I’d gotten off the train
at Hiroshima. What if I hadn’t gotten drunk
that night in the orchard. What if I had slept
by myself that night at Butte Creek. That
night. How often under the cover of dark.
How often sex whiskey or a door left banging
in the wind. At the time the mythology
was creating itself while normal people
looked on. At the time the neighbors were
in bed and the streets were empty but
the vision of her in her nightgown out
in the streets under the amber lights or
the time she reached across from the passenger
side and clawed at my face don’t tell me
what we see is ourselves tell me it could
have happened otherwise if I had or