Michael Lauchlan

Just Imagine How

it might have gone differently, that pilot school
I dropped out of, the actress I was seeing,
the department store nurse’s uniform you might
have missed. It lured you into jobs to match
your habit of kindness. Our marriages of course,
each of our first tries ending in sequence
and you standing, unforgettably lit, framed
in a doorway. Or years later, after so much,
imagine the sleepless night I drove downtown
pretending to look for a Sunday Times,
shaking with something I couldn’t name.
Imagine the wind off the river, gray
predawn light filling the new void
behind my eyes. Then, as though some dog
herded me in, I drove home and made coffee.
We had breakfast and probably talked. Is there
another life in which I found a paper and ate
pie in an all-night diner or wrecked the car
when sleep arrived a mile before our exit?
You know how I hate movies and planes.
My real options to real life never promised much.
Now, while I fidget, distracted and retracted,
you’re upstairs at work on our will, or our wills.
I can’t get it clear. Are we ever entirely separate?
Do our wills join up for dinner, sex, for laughing
uncontrollably—especially during sex? How
did my frontal lobe’s border collie guide me home?
Your habit was really a kind of arson, a self-
forgetful, incendiary love. How many times
did you decide to split only to choose to stay
without ever saying a word? Please
don’t feel you need to tell me.

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Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Lake Effect, Bellingham Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015).