For the first time
in over 5 years       I wonder
how it might’ve been       if
it had worked out    She didn’t kill herself
two weeks after we agreed
I’ll take the kids all week
and she, the weekends         what if
she might’ve flourished     painting
making more and more paintings
and Dave, who was selling her paintings
for a cut of the money      was successful
in selling her paintings       and she lived
and painted       and took the kids       on the weekends

What if it didn’t take her death to make me
more than a part time dad      what if I was not forced
by circumstance        to accept my responsibilities
but rather     came to them willingly     without drowning
in alcohol first        without my life requiring of me
something I’d given up on      having taken the mantle
not only out of necessity       but also out of volition?

The thing is      I wished she would’ve stayed    and painted
I wish she could be there    in June when Zaya graduates
I wish I would’ve done something      to keep her here
for the kids       without punishing her       for our failures
without condemning her      for the divorce    
which was just        as much mine as hers

Steve Henn wrote Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson 2017) and two previous collections from NYQBooks. He’s been a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize and he read a poem as a special guest poet at Divedapper Festival 2018. He teaches high school in Warsaw, IN.

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