“If Not” by Laura Carter

Laura Carter


I have recently begun to
love the nebulous
Alaskan spruce and wisteria that still grow
in the small patch of soil behind our
red brick townhouse in the back bay part of Boston.

If it were not for the cacti we imported
from Arizona, if it were not for the stinging rain we
brought with us from Seattle,
the Andalusian mandolin and French
ésprit, the Appalachian moccasins and English Earl Grey
tea, we would have nothing.

I would sit and turn the pages
of nursery rhyme picture books, I would sketch
the one taxicab that stops
in front of our neighbor’s mailbox each day at nine.
You might change the channel a few more times.

We would wait for calls from children, grandchildren, maybe neighbors,
I would wring my hands and
you the handkerchief in your
pocket. Secretly I would think you are almost

broken-down to nothing, as I am.
Secretly we would both rather be dead,
if not for the fact

that money grows on the spruce trees, love on the vines.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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