After Everything I Taught You

by Leona Sevick

If I told you I climbed into an old car
with an ex-con and a philandering drunk,
neither of whom I’d met before,
you’d shake your head long and slow.
 
With an ex-con and a philandering drunk?
You’d say you’re just asking for trouble,
you’d shake your head long and slow.
Did I tell you they were famous writers?
 
You’d say you’re just asking for trouble.
They probably invited you along—
[Did I tell you they were famous writers?]
because at 46 you still look pretty good.
 
They probably invited you along—
you’d say I’m not at all surprised,
because at 46 you still look pretty good,
and who doesn’t want to be admired?
 
You’d say I’m not at all surprised,
because let’s face it you never are.
And who doesn’t want to be admired?
If I told you we spent the whole night—
 
because let’s face it you never are
drinking whiskey and laughing.
If I told you we spent the whole night
and that old man wobbly-walked me
 
drinking whiskey and laughing
to my door, said goodnight
and that old man wobbly-walked me
and kissed me chastely on the mouth.
 
To my door, said goodnight.
You’d say I was lucky. Did you hear?
and kissed me chastely on the mouth.
If I told you this isn’t the first time
 
you’d say I was lucky, did you hear
I’ve made bad decisions and lived.
If I told you this isn’t the first time
I’ve lived to not regret it.
 
I’ve made bad decisions and lived;
you’d say it’s only a matter of time.
I’ve lived to not regret it.
I’m learning how to trust myself.
 
You’d say it’s only a matter of time.
Neither of whom I’d met before.
I’m learning how to trust myself
if I told you I climbed into an old car.

Leona Sewick was the 2018 Tennessee Williams scholar for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work appears in the journals Verse Daily, North American Review, The Journal, The Florida Review, The Normal School, Crab Orchard Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and the anthologies All We Can Hold (Sage Hill Press 2016) and The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (University of Arkansas Press, 2017, foreword by Terrance Hayes). Her work is forthcoming in The Arkansas International and The Southeast Review. In 2017, she was awarded the Press 53 Poetry Award for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers, and in 2012 the first place of the Split This Rock Poetry contest, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. Provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia, she teaches Asian American literature.

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