I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you.
that it was I who got up early
to sit in the kitchen
and mention with a pen
the rain-soaked windows,
the ivy wallpaper,
and the goldfish circling in its bowl
Go ahead and turn aside,
bite your lip and tear out the page,
but, listen—it was just a matter of time
before one of us happened
to notice the unlit candles
and the clock humming on the wall.
Plus, nothing happened that morning—
a song on the radio,
a car whistling along the road outside—
and I was only thinking
about the shakers of salt and pepper
that were standing side by side on a place mat.
I wondered if they had become friends
after all these years
or if they were still strangers to one another
like you and I
who manage to be known and unknown
to each other at the same time—
me at this table with a bowl of pears,
you leaning in a doorway somewhere
near some blue hydrangeas, reading this.
- Billy Collins, from his collection The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems