If I Had To Choose My Life

Would I have been who I am or would I have landed in a grassy field,
a child of refugees on the run,
or an antelope destined to a different life outside in the sun?
Would I be an insect or an elephant with enormous patience,
loyal and long suffering; a granite dome
or a streak of lightning flashing jagged across a west Texas sky at night,
so quick and so bright, no regrets, no second guessing,
just one way to go and then it’s gone?
If I had a choice to be someone else or to stick with the current plan,
knowing what I’ve done wrong and right, how I have lied, cheated, begged, stolen, prayed, hoped and been rewarded when others were more deserving;
would I give it all back or ask for more,
would I punish myself or sing out loud with tears on my cheeks,
a smile on my lips and a lust like lemmings leading me to the edge of a cliff,
ready to do it all over again?
This is the one and only life I’ve been given and it opens like a flower
even as it closes like a book.
The one way in is not mine to choose and anyway,
how could anyone have the wisdom it would take to make such a choice?
How could anyone possibly know there could be so much to lose,
how long and how much it would cost to build the Great Wall of China
or how vast a universe we live in,
how could we imagine one Galaxy like our own Milky Way
or a million more stretching on into infinity?
We are less than the least we can imagine and yet everything and more.
We bring laughter like a river and heartache like a plow,
tearing up our fertile fields of wildflowers and weeds.
We choose a house to live in, some friends to share our thoughts with,
some food to eat, some seeds to plant; and,
sometimes a Katydid flies in through an open window
landing on our shoulder, to sing along in our shaped-note choir
reminding us of who we are, how brief our time on earth might be,
how bright the lightning strikes, how enduring is the granite dome,
how complex are the eyes and wings and lives of all the creatures
here on Earth and if I had a choice, good God, I would take these words
and all the rest, in just the way it came.
I would not change a word of it
as painful as it sounds, because if I did, who knows, my lovelies,
how fragile is this web of life
and I should be lost if I had left out the parts that carried me to you,
however long and troubled the way may have been,
I choose to believe it is worth it in the end; so, let us take our chances
and dip our toes and then our bodies… into this hot springs we call home.

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