SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Ambition

I wanted to tell her that I knew the truth—

she didn't adopt her dog from a kill shelter,

which is what she was telling a group of us.

I held my tongue for fear of appearing petty.

We all want to be better than we are.

Yesterday, my brother called and asked for money.

At first, I told him no.

But he'd received the third notice from Georgia Power

so I paid his $700 electric bill though told him

never again, unless his wife got a job, any job.

I cc'ed her on the email.

She wrote back, you're an awful person

with a mixture of rage and bitterness I could hear

even on the screen. Still, this time

I meant it. I overheard the woman at the party

tell her friend they'd actually purchased the dog

from a breeder in upstate New York.

We spent so much money, we could have adopted

a baby from China. I found her statement funny.

I want to be better. I want to save a dog, to save

my brother. I want to tread lightly on this world without

leaving footprints or too many

plastic wrappers. I want to see Singapore

and Vietnam, to spend a summer in Italy writing

short stories and a sonnet or two.

Learn to tango and foxtrot equally well.

I want to be good.

I want to write one poem so perfect

that when I'm dead, a stranger will pin it to the wall,

perhaps even claim it as their own.


Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Publication Prize and was published by Red Hen Press in 2015, and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize and was published in 2010. A PhD student in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, Sarah also teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome. You can read some of her work at www.sarahwetzel.com.

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