It is not good to think
of everything as a mistake. I asked
for bacon in my sandwich, and then
I asked for more. Mistake.
I told you the truth about my scar:
I did not use a knife. I lied
about what he did to my faith
in loneliness. Both mistakes.
That there is always a you. Mistake.
Faith in loneliness, my mother proclaimed,
is faith in self. My instinct, a poor polaris.
Not a mistake is the blue boredom
of a summer lake. O mud, sun, and algae!
We swim in glittering murk.
I tread, you tread. There are children
testing the deep end, shriek and stroke,
the lifeguard perilously close to diving.
I tried diving once. I dove like a brick.
It was a mistake to ask the $30 prophet
for a $20 prophecy. A mistake to believe.
I was young and broke. I swam
in a stolen reservoir then, not even a lake.
Her prophesy: from my vagrant exertion
I'll die at 42. Our dog totters across the lake,
kicks the ripple. I tread, you tread.
What does it even mean to write a poem?
It means today
I'm correcting my mistakes.
It means I don't want to be lonely.
Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Chang. Used with permission of the author.
If when my wife is sleeping and the baby and Kathleen are sleeping and the sun is a flame-white disc in silken mists above shining trees,— if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself: "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so!" If I admire my arms, my face, my shoulders, flanks, buttocks against the yellow drawn shades,— Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household?
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.