The Equation: poetry

by Michael Hettich

You’ll meet yourself someday, out walking the dog. You’ll look into your own eyes and pretend to wonder which you is you, although of course you’ll think you know. You’ll stand there and watch your little dog sniff itself while you act as though you are standing alone. And then you’ll turn away, deny that other life, and hurry home before he might arrive there too. You’ll worry that if she sees you there together, your wife might be reminded of certain uncomfortable habits you’ve mostly overcome—with difficulty—over the years. And seeing him with you might frighten the children. But if you lock the back door, and turn the TV loud, perhaps his knocking won’t be heard; and if you draw the curtains tight, his face might not show in the windows, looking in, calling your wife and children, calling your name, begging you all to forgive and forget—which you won’t be able to do just yet. It’s just the wind, you’ll whisper to the children, as you tuck them in—and then you’ll step out to confront him somehow, afraid that the woman who looks like your wife will be standing there too, on the sidewalk, in tears.

Originally appeared in Dogwood Volume 8: 2008.

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