Author’s Note: “The Beautiful Impossible”—speculative and oddly detailed—imagines the speaker before he was born, a figure who inhabits Nebraska and falls in love with a woman who ultimately turns away from him. At its core, the poem plays with questions we all ask at times: What would’ve happened had I done this instead of that? Would I be happier were I another?
The Beautiful Impossible
I fell in love with Margaret from Omaha
on January 10, 1974, nineteen days
before I was born. We spent Saturday
summer nights at the Plymouth Drive-In
off Mercer Avenue and watched Warren Beatty
cry and Jack Nicholson connive.
We made love on her twentieth birthday
inside her father’s garage; the oil cans
rattled Esso Esso red and white
and she orgasmed twice. A stitch
of moonlight pranced through the window,
and her mother shed the afghan
and suddenly rose, the cancer she’d carried
in her stomach for decades no more lethal
than nickels or dice from a Yahtzee! box.
How happy we all were, how replete
with wonder and mashed potatoes later,
strawberry pie that tasted like Heaven
had fallen. Oh Margaret, how sensitive
you were and so undecided—we should’ve wed
in the Lutheran church and had a hundred
Susans and Johns, a thousand breakfasts
of Western omelets and a million cups
of coffee at Dee’s near the Missouri.
Your father loved me and I loved him,
his plaid pajamas, his hand-cut bacon
straight from some farm near Gretna.
One day you’ll know the meaning of forsaken.
Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (Nasiona Press, 2019). In addition to Delmarva Review, his poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review, among other journals and magazines. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University (2007) and teaches American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey.
Delmarva Review publishes new prose and poetry selected from thousands of submissions annually. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it receives partial financial support from individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. The review is available worldwide in paperback and electronic editions from Amazon.com and other major online booksellers and specialty regional bookstores. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.