If Only I’d Met You Earlier

By Adrienne Su

Featured Art: ‘Trompe-l’Oeil Still Life with a Flower Garland and a Curtain’ by Adriaen van der Spelt

We’re at it again. It’s hard not to rewrite
the years, though we couldn’t have known
they were wrong, if they were. Life
isn’t longer than it is, so off we go,

picturing how it might have happened,
though one of us would have been taken,
or both, and one of us lived up north, one
by the warmest sea. We had no common

travel destinations, we rarely read
the same books, there wasn’t one same
friend, and either might have fled
if it started to matter. Apologies, if made,

might not have been accepted. In truth
we could only have met on the street,
on one of your trips to the city. We’d both
have held back. The courage to speak

would’ve yielded “Excuse me,” no more,
all vision cordoned off by the sun.
So we might as well indulge in the words
for their sound: You would’ve been the one.


Adrienne Su’s fifth book of poems, Peach State, is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2021.

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