I AM NOT WHO I COULD HAVE BEEN

There was no grandfather there to watch me in the cradle —
no grandfather to pick me up and hug me and whisper in my ear.
Nor was he there when I became a toddler
when he could have bounced me on his knee.
Later on he might have told me stories about when he was a boy
and reveal his life to me because grandfathers can be good at such things.
But he was not there as I began to be a boy
and so when I started to be one his presence could not impact me.
Thus as the years called on me to grow
I did it unaware that there were other ways to become what we become.
What kind of man would I have turned out to be had he been there for me?
In fact, there could have been two of them
had the contingencies of life come out in a different way.
But I know that I am not who I would have become because of this
and I sometimes wonder how I might have been different.
Would I have fallen in love with words sooner than I have.
Perhaps I would have written a book or two
or maybe I’d have been satisfied to only read —
or maybe not even that.
At any rate I think I could have been another me
but I’m not complaining.
My deprivations may seem strange to you.
They seem that way to me.

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