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Things That Might Go Wrong
John Steffler
 
I was trained to be cautious:
my father always there
two steps ahead of my every move:
“If you hold it like that it’ll slip….
Now what are you going to do with it?…
I saw a guy try that once and it tore off his arm.”
 
But I go beyond such rote-learned caution.
I am creatively cautious, exquisitely
sensitive to things that might go wrong.
 
Quicker than any computer my mind
scoots down dozens of possible turns events might take,
spotting the dangers,
clucking warnings automatically as a hen.
 
Now, lying in bed, I listen as
my young daughter goes to feed the dog.
Not in his water bowl! I think to yell.
Such a nag, I tell myself.
Always your fretful plaint rotting everything.
Poor kid.
Still free. Purely happy getting his food.
Keep out of it.
You’ll make her hate you in the end,
look back some day and see
you were the hole that let in doubt and fear.
 
Even when there’s no rattle of dry dog food,
even when I hear the dog slurping his breakfast
I don’t say a word.
 
I lie grinning, victorious,
 
having checked all the dangers
and dodged the worst.

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