Today's poem is by Laura McCullough

We Argue about Regret
After James Tate's "Worshipful Company of Fletchers"

I say, "You could have been..."
Fill in anything, president -

an old joke, too often not
a joke to sons and daughters

who hear that at too many
Sunday barbecues - or a sky

diver - less brave each time,
but, oh, the stories you'd tell -

singer, candlestick maker, or
just alone, maybe even, happy.

He couldn't have, he says, even
if he'd wanted to. He kisses me

on the cheek disintegrating
into softness as if marinated.

He's a good cook, great really,
the same way he gardens

or writes or paints: gradually,
in layers, knows we want

to be seduced by scent, color,
texture, how we always want.

He surprises with the surprise
of bitter, knows the satisfaction

in never being quite satisfied,
the best secret is one we never

tell, the best truth includes one
lie. He asks, "Is regret what you'd

change? What you didn't do? Or
did? Whose voice is layered under

ours, emulsified, redolent?" He
says, "I'd like to say you love me."

I wish I could say, "I wish..."
Fill in anything: you would take

me to the garden and show me
what blooms in spring, stays green

in winter, explains how marinade
softens flesh - tell another gorgeous

half-truth, the lie just right, enough
I'd know it was enough and be still.

Copyright © 2006 Laura McCullough All rights reserved
from The Dancing Bear
Open Book Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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