A Neanderthal Considers Her Regrets

By Chrys Tobey

When I was twenty, I should’ve slowed down, should’ve realized
I was having a midlife crisis, but instead I was busy running

from a bear and chasing deer. I should’ve scraped clearer words
in clearer caves for others to find. Maybe they’ll never find any of this.

Maybe you’ll never find any of this, and this shit show, this life
of mud and ice and wind is for nothing. My heart has been a pile

of tree for thirty-eight years. Can you still smell its smoke? Are there embers
in my bones? I should’ve dyed my hair the color of sky, the color of moon.

I loved the wrong someone for more than three thousand suns. I should’ve
thanked him for all that light. But reader, wherever you are, maybe thousands

of years away, maybe only in my mind, should’ve sits on my tongue
like a nest of twig and leaf and meaning – meaning is for the birds.


Chrys Tobey‘s poems have appeared in many journals, including Ploughshares, Smartish Pace, and Rattle, and her first book of poems, A Woman is a Woman is a Woman is a Woman, is forthcoming in early 2017 from Steel Toe Books.

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