Sometimes you’ll remember it as the best
time of your life, that liquid bonhomie
that could peel the armor off a tank, bestow
courage where there’d been sheer terror.
This will feel like grief, like reaching across
the bed for a lover who has long since fled.
This is what could have been. Try not
to go back to what you were doing.
At times you’ll be shaken by all the dodged
bullets and near-misses, the ones you’d
dismissed before as anomalies, as freak
occurrences. Why are you even still here?
This will be a visit from your own ghost,
a spectre that only vaguely resembles you,
a phantom of what could have been. You
don’t have to go back to what you were doing.
In time you’ll come to regard it
with detachment, like seeing that
an ex got married, lives in the suburbs,
has acquired some very ugly furniture.
This will register as a blip, perhaps
accompanied by some small measure of
relief – this is what could have been – and
you’ll go back to what you were doing.