In the midst of stop-and-go
self-pity, I steer the car shakily; in another
universe, I may already have been killed
at a stop sign rolled through
without looking.
                      In this other universe,
collapsed in its black
suitcase like an unprovable
law of physics, we haven’t met
yet, and I am still surprised
when you hand yourself to me, strange as a winter rose;
I grasp hold, eager
and uncomprehending, glad
even when the unexpected
thorns tattoo my hand. In the ninth or tenth
dimension, perhaps I marry
some nice, ordinary man,
and raise wide-eyed children; in another one still
I go to Africa as planned,
ride all night on the leopard of my anger,
and return a shaman, or never return at all.
Although I am dead already,
although I am not yet born,
although the children I might have had are doing the cakewalk,
the rumba, the cha-cha-cha somewhere immaterial,
in this world where I married you, I would do it again,
not resisting the dangerous
flower with its strange, painful fragrance
of rust and garlic and another person’s tears mingled with mine,
the achingly sweet, crushed-petal smell of love,
still pungent even after
it has left the room.
Even knowing what I know.
Even here, in this ridiculously
difficult world, where traffic doesn’t stop
for a woman crying in her car,
clutching the steering wheel hard with both hands.