70 Favorite Poems: 62. The Key to Everything by May Swenson

[This is somewhat similar to Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word Sleep. I just fell in love with this at first sight. And gosh, that ending. Sorry, I keep on posting sad poems but...well...what can you do.]

Is there anything I can do
or has everything been done
or do
you prefer somebody else to do
it or don’t
you trust me to do
it right or is it hopeless and no one can do
a thing or do
you suppose I don’t
really want to do
it and am just saying that or don’t
you hear me at all or what?

You’re
waiting for
the right person the doctor or
the nurse the father or
the mother or
the person with the name you keep
mumbling in your sleep
that no one ever heard of there’s no one
named that really
except yourself maybe

if I knew what your name was I’d
prove it’s your
own name spelled backwards or
twisted in some way the one you
keep mumbling but you
won’t tell me your
name or
don’t you know it
yourself that’s it
of course you’ve
forgotten or
never quite knew it or
weren’t willing to believe it

Then there is something I
can do I
can find your name for you
that’s the key to everything once you’d
repeat it clearly you’d
come awake you’d
get up and walk knowing where you’re
going where you
came from

And you’d
love me
after that or would you
hate me?
no once you’d
get there you’d
remember and love me
of course I’d
be gone by then I’d
be far away

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2 responses

  1. Ana

    I had not read this before. Amazed!

    30 September 2009 at 8:16 am

  2. i have loved this poem since i was 16 when i first read it. it’s not until today, over forty years later that i understand it. thanks for posting.

    3 September 2011 at 3:17 am

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