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Winter
2009

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Branches (for Eric)
Ivy Page

If I knew that those Sunday-school stories I heard would become
                a ball of uncertainty rolling around inside me,
if my parents hadn’t kicked me out for dating the youth pastor wannabe,
                and I hadn’t moved in with the married lesbian.
If the married lesbian hadn’t decided to divorce her husband
                I wouldn’t have ended up living in Athens, Georgia where
I would, in the span of a week discover that my boyfriend was
                cheating on me, miscarry our baby, and get mugged.
 If I hadn’t moved in with my ex-boyfriend’s mother after that
                and then in with a distant cousin in Milledgeville, Georgia
where I would find my perceptions altered by practicing the loss
                of time through smoke and mushrooms, multiple partners
and practicing being “Good Enough” at karaoke. Or if my drinking buddy
                hadn’t said that the guy running the karaoke night
was gay, so that I challenged — I would bet her a beer that I could
                get him in the sack, and if he hadn’t asked for my
number that same night only to tear it up a week later because I turned him
                down because I was still only seventeen and wouldn’t be
let into the bar where he wanted to take me dancing.  And if the drummer
                in the band I sang for hadn’t done twelve shots of white
lightning the following New Years and then urinated on me in bed because
                he was in diabetic shock, and if I hadn’t covered the shift
delivering pizzas for the girl I worked with, and if I hadn’t gone
                to the party, where the guy that ran karaoke
read poetry, and I sang bad imitations of Janis Joplin—
                then I wouldn’t have ended up in place of eight month snows,
married ten years to the guy that ran karaoke, and I wouldn’t be watching our
                two children recreating games of hopeful daisy chains, and
animal clouds, and if we had chosen any other branch
                would the structure be the same without a page on either side—
your choice or mine?