Publication Date: August, 2020
Location: Go to PoetsOnline.org, then Archives, then Undoing
Genesis: I remember, growing up, occasionally coming into contact with an adult who had a real downbeat view on life; life’s not fair, I’ve been hard done to, I’ve been unlucky, nothing ever goes right. You know the sort. And these people, it struck me, not only had a long list of regrets that they would readily share with anyone who cared to listen, but were also truly wedded to their regrets. Their regrets were a key part of how they viewed themselves and their place in the world.
As a result of these childhood encounters, I made a promise to myself, quite early on, that I would have no regrets. (This was later enhanced by a piece of wisdom I picked up along the way that says that we are much more likely to regret the things we don’t do, rather than the things we do). Now, entering the second half of my life, I realise that that is quite a tall order to live up to and, of course, I have a few. (Is this starting to sound like a Sinatra song to anyone?) However, they are relatively few and far between, and I’m certainly not wedded to any of them in that they don’t really inform my view of myself.
So, in response to a prompt on ‘undoing’, I delved into a place within myself where I don’t often visit , pulled out all the regrets I could think of and chose, not to find some non-existent way to undo them, but to make a wiser choice next time.
My first marriage was born From a combination of lust and gratitude, Despite the fact that she smelled of coconut The first time we met, At the foot of the steps at Waterloo Station. I hate coconut. I’ll not do that again. My Dad wept on his deathbed When he saw Mum and I hugging and crying At the thought of losing him. He had to ask us to stop. I’ll not do that again. When I was eight, I lost a wooden clog keyring That a neighbour had brought me back from Holland. Last year, I lost a lovely, carved wooden pipe With a little swivel lid. I still feel the pain of these losses, of being so careless. I’ll not do that again. I lent £3,000 of my mothers’ money to Andreas; I doubt I’ll ever get it back. I invested £15,000 in Dean’s software And that never came to anything, either, Despite a lot of long days and wasted efforts. I’ll not do that again. I slept with Spooky Sally From the shelter where we both worked; I’ll not do that again. I once bribed my late kid sister to take the blame For the mysteriously unravelled toilet roll So I would be allowed go to Cub Scouts that night. I’ll not do that again. I delayed throwing a post-funeral celebration For my Mum; (I couldn’t afford the venue deposit). I’ll not do that again because now, There are restrictions on gatherings And rules on “social distancing” That make such a party impossible. Preparing to write this poem, I wrote a list of all my regrets. I’ll not do that again.