I Cannot Dwell in Possibility
There is a theory that states
there are an infinite number
of parallel universes, each a mirror
of our own, but slightly different.
Each choice made creates another universe:
In this one, I went back to college,
in another, I stayed in the army.
Here, my mother picked up her first cigarette at 14
in the bitter cold, December 1975.
In another, she politely declined.
There is a world where she never worried
that she may have to bury her first son.
The version of me that she deserved
lives in that one.
There’s one where I could call her, right now.
Hear her voice, her laugh.
Tell her I love her. Tell her
Everything, anything at all.
The first time I said it, it was as if I was speaking some foreign tongue that was similar to my own but different in one small way that made it so completely wrong, so alien, that it warped my sense of reality like a black hole. She was. I said it three more times: Was. Was. Was. Say a word enough times and your brain loses the ability to process it. It starts to lose its meaning, becomes an abstract concept, just letters with no real value: Was. Was. W / A / S. Originally wæs, past tense singular of wesan in Old English—to remain. Also derived from bēon— to be, from the Proto-Germanic biju. Was. The past tense of the most common yet irregular verb in the English language, described as a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments. Or, an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dialects. 53 years on this Earth reduced to an accidental conglomeration of sounds. Sounds that clump deep in my throat before dripping from my lips like molasses, thick and slow and sticky. Sugar boiled bitter.
Alexander Radison is an MFA candidate in poetry at Queens College (CUNY), where he also teaches creative writing. His work has been previously published in Utopia Parkway Literary Magazine, Newtown Literary Journal, The Violet Hour, and was awarded the Making Work Visible poetry prize at www.laborarts.org.