A Journal of poetry and kindred prose

Susan McLean

is a professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poems have appeared in The Formalist, Iambs and Trochees, Light Quarterly, and elsewhere. A chapbook of her autobiographical poems, Holding Patterns, is available from Finishing Line Press.

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This is no fairy tale, no dream come true.
You’re awkward when you first meet, unaware
of any sudden spark. It could be you

just want a date, and like somebody who
can make you laugh. You’re sick of solitaire
and dying for a dance. No dreams come true,

but daily calls are nicer than you knew.
Your parents disapprove, which makes you care
more stubbornly. Later, it could be you

just skip the something borrowed, something blue,
and find a cheap one-bedroom flat to share.
Living on cold cuts is no dream come true.

You learn to cook, to budget, to make do
with chicken livers and vin ordinaire.
After you’ve finished school, it could be you

take jobs in different states, as you pursue
your dreams. Once more, your voices bridge the air,
mile after lonely mile. No dreams come true,
but someone dies at the end. It could be you.



At eighteen, trying to write and keen for glory,
I couldn’t scrounge the bones of a single story.
I fished in fantasy, without a bite.
Even if tarted up, my past seemed trite
and prosy, not worth digging up again—
yet much I write of now had happened then.
I sift through memory’s middens, one by one,
to find out what I am, before I’m done.