“Nothing Is Fine” by Susan Paris

Susan Paris


Should you marry the perfect
person in wingtips or the cute
one everyone says will never
be marriage material? Good
question. Wrong answer.

My heart leaped, and God said
To have and to hold and do all
the right things. One boy, one girl,
scrape the weeds from between the
patio brick and make the sandwiches
with butter not mayo, spread all
the way to the edges.

Follow the advice of old aunties
who tell you to have a career to
fall back on because poetry
won’t buy the groceries and the
city is no place to raise a child.
And stay home—they are
only young for a little while.

But along the way you forget
what you like for supper, and
every day is just like
last week and tomorrow and
you can’t remember who your
favorite author is anymore.

Then one day the sunlight taps
her pointy finger on your
shoulder. Turn around quick and
look for Something with your
name on it—something that finally
lets you dream without fighting
battles in your sleep.
They say, “what do you want?”
Good question, but this isn’t it,
and nothing is fine. Some
people know what they’re going to
wear next Friday and look at
you like you should be satisfied
and not make waves and are “fully
vested,” whatever that means.

If the pot of dreams you’re
searching for isn’t behind door
number three, what do you do
when the big four-oh demands:
“Come here now and be Somebody?”
Good question. Right answer.

Tell it you’ll look forever
if you like and not settle
for the handy life, thank you
very much. And when you
finally come out of the
basement and into the glare,
no one will be strapped
to your back.

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018


Susan Paris: “At the time I wrote this poem (and several others), I was a stay-at-home mom. As I began to consider a career, I went back to school and did a lot of soul searching. This poem is a sample of that self-examination.”

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