The Time Machine
My mother begged me: Please, please, study
I would have no future, and this
is the future that was lost in time to me
having scoffed at her, refusing
to learn the only skill I’d ever need, the one
I will associate forever now with loss, with her
bald head, her wig, a world
by the time we had this argument, while
our walls stayed slathered in its pale green.
wore its sweater sets. While we
giddily picked the pineapple
off our hams with toothpicks. Now
I'm lost somewhere between
and 1973. My
time machine, blown off course, just
as my mother knew it would be.
Oh, Mama: forget about me.
You don't have to forgive
me, but know this, please:
the Stenographer now.
the Secretary you wanted me to be. I am
the girl who gained the expertise you
knew some day some man would need.
Too late, maybe.
I'm sick, I think.
“And now I'm going to tell you
a little secret.
Get your pen and steno-pad, and sit
down across from me.”
It never ends.
You learn a million
the symbols &
practice the techniques
and still you wake up every morning
lost inside your
lost machine. Confused, but always
on a journey.
I'm taking it down
so quickly, so
when I appear
not to be.
I do this naturally.
that in the end
no training was ever needed.
None at all.
None at all.
I taught myself so well.
It's all I can do now.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Kasischke. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.