If… Dog… Rabbit…

By on May 6, 2013 in Poetry

Teen on motorcycle against background of motorcycle on road


(for John)

The ‘if’ sets up the futile ground of possibility while the ‘only’ that’s implied
underlines the ruefulness of being human, of being a mother, of having seen
too much of what’s disguised as what is wanted. Sometimes it is the dog
that is missing, or the dog could save the day, or the dog chases after
the rabbit yipping its high-pitched joy only to return winded with a slobbery
grin. The only answer to “if only.”

When the idiom changes to if…son…motorcycle and the only becomes
if only he had not inherited my need for speed, my need to risk everything
to ride the rims of my desire to the edge of what I thought I wanted,
and the only is also my only child then I must confront my thoughts
of maim and mayhem, or worse a world without him. I plead, I bargain
then learn to say and mean it:

I trust whatever is guiding you to this road on this iconic steed, that you are
aware of your invisibility, vulnerability, the unforgiving nature of concrete
and loose gravel, that you have learned to care for the beast that will carry
you and keep it well maintained. I give you my confidence in your ability
to make good decisions and my belief that we all choose our paths
for the reason known and the reason unknown.

Yes, yes, my confidence is in your good judgment, your healthy appreciation
of your life. I will tell you that I will not worry, and I will believe it is possible
within me. If worry were productive, the world would be a different place.
The lessons to come are your own, and I hope that any landings you have
are soft ones. Remember what Grandma Martin said, “Don’t go any faster
than your angels can fly.”

Yes, yes, I will buy you the leather jacket. The black one silver-studded
to catch the light.


Born in Oklahoma, Marilyn Ringer now resides in Northern California. She received a BA in Social Sciences and an MA in Experimental Psychology, both from Southern Methodist University. She has been a chef and restauranteur, a poet-teacher with California's Poets In The Schools, and a teacher of adult creative writing workshops. During the summer, she spends extended time on Monhegan Island in Maine, where she writes with a group of women who are artists, teachers, Gestalt therapists, and gardeners, as well as writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod; Drumvoices Revue; Eclipse; Left Curve; Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine; Hawai'i Pacific Review; Sanskrit; Porcupine; Wisconsin Review; The Evansville Review; Cairn; Bayou; decomP; The Cape Rock; ellipsis; The Hurricane Review; Limestone; The MacGuffin; Mochila Review; Oregon East; Phantasmagoria; Poet Lore; Assissi; Reed Magazine; poemmemoirstory (PMS); River Oak Review; Westview; Willard & Maple; Folio; The Griffin; RiverSedge; Willow Review; The Binnacle; Diverse Voices Quarterly; Chico News & Review; Slant; Studio One; Eclectica; Quiddity Literary Journal; Clackamas Literary Review; Xavier Review; Watershed; Iodine Poetry Journal; ByLine; California Quarterly; Milk Money; Pisgah Review; Schuylkill Valley Journal; Sierra Nevada College Review; Squaw Valley Review; Pearl; Taproot Literary Review; Tar Wolf Review; Poet's Cove, An Anthology: Monhegan in Poetry, 2000-2002 (New Monhegan Press, 2003); The Art of Monhegan Island (Down East Press, 2004); Chico Poets, A Calendar for 2005 (Bear Star Press, 2004); and her chapbook, Island Abaude (Finishing Line Press, 2012).