In this poem, I flip a different coin
and decide to study poetry instead of nonfiction.
Or I stay at the bakery job I loathe, mesmerized
by its awfulness, gathering material
for the novel I am never going to have time
to write. I love Minneapolis too much
to ever leave. You move to England
instead of Ohio and our paths never cross.
Maybe I start drinking coffee in first grade, stunt my growth
and never reach five foot ten. Other things that did not happen
to me happen instead, and I become another person, one who
is a confident singer, knits beautiful sweaters, wears makeup
every day, and hates hot sauce, dinosaurs and dancing.
I adopt a cat instead of a puppy.
My apartment smells like a litterbox, but the corners
of my wooden furniture remain pristine and unchewed.
I overwater many unfortunate houseplants before I give up
and buy the most realistic-looking fake succulents
I can afford. Maybe this fascination with coincidence is just the summation
of our innate search for patterns, persistent desire
to make sense. To be seen and loved, against all odds. Maybe you
skip the artists’ market that day in Santa Fe, or
another painting catches your eye, or maybe you take home the same
retablo, but never notice
how the wise-eyed saint on your wall looks a little like me.
Until, despite all the other possibilities,