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If You Had Come

by Wesley McNair


If you had come into that room
after her stroke to find
my mother-in-law Sue Reed
and me, our heads bent
toward each other, making faces

so her face would remember
what it had forgot
of the expressions for surprise
and dismay, or if
you had come in the moment

when I tried to teach her lips
by forming small lips
and making them breathe,
first to the left, then
to the right of my nose

until she began to laugh,
and laugh because she couldn’t
on one side, and both
of us laughed, you might
have imagined what we did

had less to do with instruction
or sorrow than the antics
of lovers, she giving me
her hand then, I taking it
in mine to stroke it

over and over in the pleasure
of being together in the room
where you might have come
to imagine the two of us
together, just as we were.

 

Donald Hall once said of Wesley McNair that “because he is a true poet, his New England is unlimited.” Mr. McNair's most recent books are Fire (Godine, 2002) and Mapping the Heart: Reflections on Place and Poetry (Carnegie-Mellon, 2002). He directs the creative writing program at the University of Maine at Farmington. (5/03)


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