Carl Dennis
Say It

Say it wasn’t your eloquence, as you supposed,

That won your wife’s affections but the odd,

Congenital squeak in your voice that reminded her

Of her dad’s voice which was squeakier.

Say you didn’t earn her as Jacob earned Rachel,

Toiling seven years, and seven more,

When you marked on your sample ballot at the polling place

The same losers she planned to vote for,

When you spoke of the many unfriendly porch steps

You’d climbed on weekends to canvass for true reform,

When you detailed the doors slammed in your face

Just as you opened your argument for higher taxes.

Why should it make you sad to leave the club

Of the self-made, where the meetings drone on

As each of the members lists his accomplishments?

Why not prefer the club of the lucky, the blessed,

Where you can muse in your garden under lilac trees

Already tall and fragrant when you moved in?

Once it seemed important that you clean the yard

By hand from a tangle of underbrush,

That you bricked the path and carved the fountain.

Let it now be more relevant to your pleasure

To muse on the box of miniature garden tools

Your father gave you fifty years back,

The ones your mother let you keep playing with

When the children next door called you to their games.

Wonder how she managed to resist her fear

You’d be a loner, where she got the faith

A friend was included among the gifts

Time was planning to send your way.

Found In Volume 39, No. 06
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Carl Dennis
About the Author

Carl Dennis teaches in the English Department of the State University of New York at Buffalo. His most recent book of poems, Meetings With Time, was published in 1992 by Viking Penguin.