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Ode to My Mistakes
Susan Flynn


oh, blundering human,
tripping forward,

turn around—
tread your life’s labyrinth
back to the beginning

begin again

this time

woo your mother more
bring flowers
find the Queen Anne’s lace
growing wild among the dandelions
behind your garage
bring her those

don’t be so hard on her
you were her third,
she was tired,
this time help her out

go with her more often
to visit her mother
hold her hand
her mother doesn’t like her
she’s scared 

and your father
forgive him
yes, I know
those orange pants
are hard to forgive—
but he wore them
when he coached your baseball team—
none of the other fathers were there

and the drinking, the bloodshot eyes,
the whisky breath, sloppy kisses
years of long empty silence

forgive it all
then forgive yourself for not
forgiving him

about your first marriage
there are mistakes that sculpt
the rest of one’s life

but please, stop saying
your first marriage
was for practice
a mistake to believe,
demeaning to say
two hurting people
got hurt more
that’s real
that happened


about not having children
you never consciously chose
to not have children

you chose other things
mostly about men
divorce, a too-late second marriage,

but you never did choose
to have a child

I don’t know if that was a mistake,

but I do know
you should scatter those babies’ ashes
every day before you die

your dying will be easier

Susan Flynn has been published in Late Peaches, An Anthology of Sacramento Poets; No Achilles, An Anthology of War Poetry; Tule Review; Oberon Poetry Magazine; WomenArts Quarterly; Adirondack Review; Slab and Cosumnes River Journal. Susan is the author of a chapbook, Seeing Begins in the Dark, and she is currently in the process of pursuing a publisher. She has also attended several writing workshops and studied under Mark Doty, Fenton Johnson, Marie Howe, Ellen Bass, Carl Phillips, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Kate Asche, and Pat Schneider. Susan has her BA in American Literature and her PhD in Clinical Psychology, and currently works as a clinical psychologist and a university professor. She lives in Sacramento and enjoys fly fishing, writing, photography, and playing the piano.