JR Tappenden is the founding editor of Architrave Press and poetry editor for december magazine. She earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Missouri – St. Louis where she also served as the university’s first Poet Laureate. Her poems have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Flyway, Euphony, Ithaca Lit and elsewhere. Her chapbook Independent City is out now from Wells College Press.
Regarding Your Wish For Do-Overs
Dear sister: in those moments, if you'd known,
would you have yielded more easily to gratitude?
Maybe you'd go back to the last air show in Elmira,
be more patient as he lingered in a rickety Antonov?
That lumbering bus of a plane did not glint, its cockpit deep
in leftover lunch and a scattered poker deck. And yet. Chatting with the pilot,
he sussed it out: the Antonov's stall speed was so slow
that in a strong headwind, it would fly backward. Later
that day, together, you saw the trick performed and never since
have you dismissed an ugly aircraft. Be glad you didn't know.
Better to let meaning slowly layer itself over the memory,
bittersweet. Of course it meant you only got to say
one crude, blanket thank you, but Jennifer: if you had known
then or could go back to any of those moments now,
the loss, it's magnitude, would break you.