Sunday, September 05, 2010

If only

If only understanding
wasn't a gerund
mixed race child
of noun and verb
a chimera
a misfit
an outsider
looking in at us
with wisdom
in her eyes
and sadness
because we can't see
what she sees

if only learning
was as easy as
not a thought at all
just a fundamental fact

if only loving
was as simple as
picking up a stone
and holding it
in your hand
and holding it in your hand
was the same as
holding it in your heart
and being held
by the stone too

if only I could be content
with just being
if I could get over
connecting doing
with happiness
writing a poem
and being satisfied
with the

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the "If only" prompt at Writer's Island and the "finding words from our everyday lives" prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

The "if only" phrase kept bouncing around in my head, but I didn't know what to do with it. Then I remembered a note I had jotted down in my lesson plan book in response to a question one of my students asked about the word "understanding". He had identified it as a noun on a homework assignment and was wondering why it wasn't correct. I explained it was a gerund, and told my class that I'd research it further and that I'd teach a lesson on gerunds, which is why I had written it down. And those two words, understanding and gerund, from my everyday life were the inspiration to go somewhere with "if only".


  1. Good to see your writing again. I agree with your 'if only' statements. Strong poem!

  2. Thanks, Mary. It's good to be writing poems again, now that the back-to-school rush is over.

  3. If only... indeed. Nicely written!

  4. Like the wistfulness of this, particularly the stanza about the stone. Nicely done!

  5. Tumblewords and Christine, thank you for your kind words. "If only" could have been very negative, but I'll go with wistful.

  6. That third stanza grabbed my heart. Beautiful, all of it, but especially that. For me.

    If only is provocative and evocative.

  7. Thanks, Deb. It's my favorite too. The others are more personal, but that third stanza is more universal. Thank you for leaving me such a kind comment.