by Lawrence Raab
Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
I hadn’t phoned, he says, that morning?
What if you’d been out,
as you were when I tried three times
the night before?
Then she tells him a secret.
She’d been there all evening, and she knew
he was the one calling, which was why
she hadn’t answered.
Because she felt—
because she was certain—her life would change
if she picked up the phone, said hello,
said, I was just thinking
I was afraid,
she tells him. And in the morning
I also knew it was you, but I just
answered the phone
the way anyone
answers a phone when it starts to ring,
not thinking you have a choice.
Lawrence Raab employs refreshingly simple language to explore memory, love, and a mysterious inevitability. “Marriage” appeared in his collection of poems titled, What We Don’t Know About Each Other. The book won the National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. His latest work, A History of Forgetting, may not be as flashy as some of his earlier poetry, but finds the poet settled into a moody pathos that has some critics drawing comparisons to Thomas Hardy.