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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,

you do.