If I Had Known Then…
by Kathy Lundy Derengowski

If I had known what teenagers are like
I might have been forewarned
As there she stands, with hands on hips
sullen, pouting, defiant
all rolling eyes and dismissive demeanor
little Miss-Know-It-All
“Mother.Please. Stop with the lectures.
Let me make my own mistakes!”

So all of my experience
errors, disappointments, humiliations
wrong turns and life lessons
are for naught.

I only want to tell her
this hard-won truth
That even now, if I could
I would pay any willing soul
to make my mistakes for me
— as I would do for her
Oh, if I could
I would.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe that all poetry is biography of the lives we’ve led, or the lives we hoped to lead. There are no known contemporaneous photos of the weary disheartened mother or the pouting 13-year-old who are the subjects of this poem. Perhaps this is fortunate for all involved. The poet is pleased to report that both she and the recalcitrant teenager(s) have survived and have a lot to smile about!


Kathy Lundy Derengowski
is a Southern California poet who is an active member of the north San Diego county poetry community. She is the facilitator of the Lake San Marcos Writer’s Group, and co-editor of Summation, an ekphrastic anthology in coordination with the Escondido Municipal Art Gallery, Her work has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, The Journal of Modern Poetry (Chicago Poetry Press), The California Quarterly, and she has received awards from the California State Poetry Society.