What I Would Do

What I Would Do
by marc petersen
If my wife were to have an affair,
I would walk to my toolbox in the garage,
Take from it my 12″ flathead screwdriver
And my hickory-handle hammer,
The one that helped me build three redwood fences,
And I would hammer out the pins
In all the door hinges in the house,
And I would pull off all the doors
And I would stack them in the backyard.
And I would empty all the sheets from the linen closet,
And especially the flannels we have slept between for
nineteen winters;
And I would empty all the towels, too,
The big heavy white towels she bought on Saturdays at
And the red bath towels we got for our wedding,
And which we have never used;
And I would unroll the aluminum foil from its box,
And carry all the pots and pans from the cupboards to the
And lay this one long sheet of aluminum foil over all our
pots and pans;
And I would dump all the silverware from the drawer
Onto the driveway; and I would push my motorcycle over
And let all its gas leak out,
And I would leave my Jeep running at the curb
Until its tank was empty or its motor blew up,
And I would turn the TV up full-blast and open all the
And I would turn the stereo up full-blast,
With Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on it,
Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” really blasting;
And I would strip our bed;
And I would lie on our stripped bed;
And I would see our maple budding out the window.
I would see our maple budding out our window,
The hummingbird feeder hanging from its lowest bough.
And my cat would jump up to see what was the matter
with me.
And I would tell her. Of course, I would tell her.
From her, I hold nothing back.

0 thoughts on “What I Would Do

  1. Marc Petersen’s poem inspires me to further explore the seemingly inexplicable actions resulting from a communication breakdown between the sexes. Petersen’s portrayal of a man betrayed, who supposedly knew and trusted his wife so well, and who (hypothetically) doesn’t seem to have much to say about the betrayal after so many years together reveals the emotional state of many men. The creative device of supposition leads to an unexpected – and moving outcome that emphasizes this state of being.
    Petersen builds to the climax in an unusual way as well. And the dénouement was surprising – yet not so surprising. If you really think about it, we all hold something back, even when we think we don’t – and we find unusual ways to cope with any breakdown. (Like writing poetry.)
    I had never read Marc Petersen’s work until now and just “googled” it. Impressive curriculum for a high school English course. The Library of Congress made a good choice.

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