After Everything I Taught You

by Leona Sevick

If I told you I climbed into an old car
with an ex-con and a philandering drunk,
neither of whom I’d met before,
you’d shake your head long and slow.

With an ex-con and a philandering drunk?
You’d say you’re just asking for trouble,
you’d shake your head long and slow.
Did I tell you they were famous writers?

You’d say you’re just asking for trouble.
They probably invited you along—
[Did I tell you they were famous writers?]
because at forty-six you still look pretty good.

They probably invited you along—
you’d say I’m not at all surprised,
because at forty-six you still look pretty good,
and who doesn’t want to be admired?

You’d say I’m not at all surprised,
because let’s face it you never are.
And who doesn’t want to be admired?
If I told you we spent the whole night—

because let’s face it you never are
drinking whiskey and laughing.
If I told you we spent the whole night
and that old man wobbly-walked me

drinking whiskey and laughing
to my door, said goodnight
and that old man wobbly-walked me
and kissed me chastely on the mouth.

To my door, said goodnight.
You’d say I was lucky. Did you hear?
and kissed me chastely on the mouth.
If I told you this isn’t the first time

you’d say I was lucky, did you hear
I’ve made bad decisions and lived.
If I told you this isn’t the first time
I’ve lived to not regret it.

I’ve made bad decisions and lived;
you’d say it’s only a matter of time.
I’ve lived to not regret it.
I’m learning how to trust myself.

You’d say it’s only a matter of time.
Neither of whom I’d met before.
I’m learning how to trust myself
if I told you I climbed into an old car.

Leona Sevick is the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award Winner for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers. Her recent work appears in The Journal, Crab Orchard Review The Southeast Review, The Arkansas International, The Cortland Review, and Four Way Review. Her work also appears in The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks. Sevick was named a 2019 Walter E. Dakin Fellow for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and her work has been nominated for two Pushcart prizes. She is provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where she teaches Asian American literature.