The dictionary defines regret as: 1) to mourn the loss or death of someone or something 2) to miss very much.
Poetry often addresses this human feeling. I tend to believe that the writing of poems serves to help the poet work through the tangled psychic and emotional network of the heart’s pain. At least, that ‘s my experience. The writing of poetry in some ways is a form of therapy. In my own life, I do not know how I would cope without writing poems that externalize some of my deeply imbedded internal baggage.
One of the most intense sorts of regret centers on romantic disintegration. Years ago, I went through a terribly difficult divorce. I survived, to a great extent, by writing many of the poems that ultimately appeared in my first book. That collection of poems stands as both a painful relic and a life-saving document to my eyes.
In the following poem by Michael Ryan, we see such regret at the loss of a relationship in all its wrenching clarity:
At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks
chatting in front of the post office,
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,
I remembered the winter we spent
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?
How lovely and strange the gangly spines
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home
each day in the dark at four o’clock
and would come into my study to kiss me
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.
Address poem submissions and correspondence to: email@example.com or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Department of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).