What I Did Wrong
Slapped the man’s face, then slapped it again,
broke the plate, broke the glass, pushed the cat
from the couch with my feet. Let the baby
cry too long, then shook him,
let the man walk, let the girl down,
wouldn’t talk, then talked too long,
lied when there was no need
and stole what others had, and never
told the secret that kept me apart from them.
Years holding on to a rope
that wasn’t there, always sorry
righteous and wrong. Who would
follow that young woman down the narrow hallway?
Who would call her name until she turns?
Copyright © 2017 by Marie Howe. From Magdalene (W. W. Norton, 2017). Used with permission of the author.
Marie Howe was born in 1950 in Rochester, New York. She worked as a newspaper reporter and teacher before receiving her MFA from Columbia University in 1983. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 2017-08-28
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/what-i-did-wrong