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Marriage

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Years later they find themselves talking   
about chances, moments when their lives   
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
                                     What if
I hadn’t phoned, he says, that morning?   
What if you’d been out,
as you were when I tried three times   
the night before?
                           Then she tells him a secret.   
She’d been there all evening, and she knew   
he was the one calling, which was why   
she hadn’t answered.
                               Because she felt—
because she was certain—her life would change   
if she picked up the phone, said hello,   
said, I was just thinking
of you.
            I was afraid,
she tells him. And in the morning   
I also knew it was you, but I just   
answered the phone
                            the way anyone
answers a phone when it starts to ring,   
not thinking you have a choice.

Lawrence Raab, “Marriage” from What We Don’t Know About Each Other. Copyright © 1993 by Lawrence Raab. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Source: What We Don't Know About Each Other (Penguin Books, 1993)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 1990 issue of Poetry magazine

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Marriage

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