A Poem For Saturday

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“At the IGA: Franklin, New Hampshire” by Jane Kenyon (1947-1995):

This is where I would shop
if my husband worked felling trees
for the mill, hurting himself badly
from time to time; where I would bring
my three kids; where I would push
one basket and pull another
because the boxes of diapers and cereal
and gallon milk jugs take so much room.

I would already have put the clothes
in the two largest washers next door
at the Norge Laundry Village. Done shopping,
I’d pile the wet wash in trash bags
and take it home to dry on the line.

And I would think, hanging out the baby’s
shirts and sleepers, and cranking the pulley
away from me, how it would be
to change lives with someone,
like the woman who came after us
in the checkout, thin, with lots of rings
on her hands, who looked us over openly.

Things would have been different
if I hadn’t let Bob climb on top of me
for ninety seconds in 1979.
It was raining lightly in the state park
and so we were alone. The charcoal fire
hissed as the first drops fell….
In ninety seconds we made this life—

a trailer on a windy hill, dangerous jobs
in the woods or night work at the packing plant;
Roy, Kimberly, Bobby; too much in the hamper,
never enough in the bank.

(From Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon © 2005 by the estate of Jane Kenyon. Used by permission of the Permissions Company on behalf of Graywolf Press. Photo by Christopher Aloi)