If Only

Moulin Rouge movie poster, 2001

Moulin Rouge poster art (2001) | Photo: author

If Only

She’s the sweetest thing

Granting me a costly smile

That forebears forgiveness.

She raises her glass with

Both hands like a child

For the thousandth time

I wish, like a child wishes to be

Grown up, or a boy a girl.


Did I choose this heartbreak?

I swear it has chosen me

Raised me with strong hands

Like a promise

To a different light

She: “This should have worked,

If only…”

I: “It would have, if only…”


If only, then, my mind refused

Debts I hadn’t the will to bear

Instead of foolishly counting

On buried treasure.

I make a promise

To four clasped hands:

No more ‘if onlies,’ no

Calculated heartbreaks.


I’ve lost all collateral

There’s no translation, no language

Until all liens are removed.

She smiles sadly, strong

She’s the sweetest thing

But the things I love are bitter.


My heart ducks between

Shadows as I pay her

My last kiss in this currency

And feel the promise of

Unransomed breath

On her lips, bittersweet.


By Jason Anderson


2 thoughts on “If Only

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