Today's poem is by Mary Biddinger

Saint Monica Wishes on the Wrong Star

Maybe they were both the wrong star.
Perhaps she had wished on a battered
sloop instead of a majestic ocean liner,
read the green tea leaves upside down,
or failed to reveal the correct details
outside the psychic's booth at the fair.

She was always waiting to cut herself,
like in that movie where the protagonist
cut herself. Monica wanted to go in
reverse, even in fourth grade, when she
jammed her legs into last year's yellow
fleece pajamas. The movie's protagonist

washed dishes at the local pub, impaling
pint glasses on the scrub brush panel
two at a time. Monica remembered the best
parts of all her past jobs, especially ones
she despised. The twenty-minute lunch
in the break room with an orange booth,

ashtray overflowing its stale Virginia
Slims. She was reading an Anne Tyler
novel, which almost made it romantic.
The protagonist of the film had probably
wished on the wrong star, which would
explain the two men on opposite sides

of the jukebox. Monica's grandmother
claimed she'd learned to walk backwards
before ever running forward. As a teen
Monica had scoured the previous year's
fashion magazines. Who could blame
her, though? They lived in Michigan,

where nothing ever changed. But when
would the pint glass shatter in her hand,
just like the woman on the screen, limp
ponytail snaking around her shoulders?
Would she have to wait for the flush
of blood, or would the transformation

be instantaneous? The black and white
world reversed, a bite of tea cake spit
out, onto the saucer. How long until
she went back fifteen years, days before
she staked all her money on the wrong
horse, grazing in the wrong pasture.

Copyright © 2011 Mary Biddinger All rights reserved
from Saint Monica
Black Lawrence Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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