If I Listened to Mom
by Jennifer Lagier

If I had listened to mother,
followed rules,
been a docile, obedient wife,
would I still be an independent,
educated feminist,
free-spirited poet?

Looking back,
I discover a trashy B movie:
naïve virgin, married too young,
careless mid-life adultery,
older re-entry student,
homeless divorcee.

Immaturity and hard-headedness
disrupted predictable plotlines.
Chain-reaction disasters
forced me to learn survival skills,
reinvent self, keep starting over.

Without stumbling,
could I have still pushed boundaries,
discovered passion,
amassed a rich repertoire
of unique adventures?

PHOTO: The author at 19, taken by David Lagier.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “If I….” is the start of regular morning conversations during walks with my sister. We often wonder how our lives would have turned out had we ever been encouraged to excel in dance, music, art, or other endeavors. Instead, we were taught to give up like generations of women before us.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 12 books and in literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her newest books are Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press) and Harbingers (Blue Light Press), and her forthcoming chapbook is Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Visit her at

Author photo by Laura Bayless.