Five Things to Do With a Mistake

  1. Have a staring contest with your mistake. Take a deep breath, open your eyes, and glare at that thing. Hold its gaze until your eyes burn, until tears stream down your face. When you can’t bear it anymore, keep staring. Lock eyes until it looks away. If you find this impossible, don’t be afraid to blink. Keep practicing. Try again. Trust that you will outlast your mistake. 
  1. Let your mistake visit you for the weekend. Prep the guest room with fresh sheets and lines in the carpet. Put out a towel and washcloth on the bed. Go in for the bear hug when the mistake arrives at your door. Lead it upstairs, let it use the fancy soap. Make brunch the next morning. Then, help the mistake pack its bags. Call an uber. Burn the sheets. 
  1. Wrestle that mistake into some clothes, then carry it, kicking and screaming, out to the van. Pin it down as you strap it into the car seat–Click! Click! Click! Pull the strap until it’s good and tight (it’s not that bad! It’s to keep you safe!). Start driving north toward the mountains. Glance at it in the rearview mirror and yell, “Road Trip!” with a smile. Turn up your favorite music, roll down the windows, hit up the drive through for a large iced latte. Tell the mistake your story. Answer its questions. Stop at a roadside rest area and don’t let it back in the car. Wave goodbye but keep looking forward. Continue on toward those mountains. 
  1. Let your mistake pour itself into the bathtub, fill it almost to the brim. Turn down the lights. Light a candle. Step in slowly, slip in one toe, one foot, one leg at a time. Lower yourself into the mistake, close your eyes; luxuriate in it. Put on a poetry podcast or a playlist of songs in minor keys. Let the mistake cover you, let it hold you as you sob. When you realize the mistake has become lukewarm, pull the plug and watch it rush down the drain. Listen to it gurgle as it disappears forever. Find joy in the silence.  

  2. Weigh that mistake down to the ounce. Take it home, pat it dry with a paper towel. Preheat the oven. Trim the fat, tenderize it with whacks from the mallet in the drawer. Season it with lots of salt. Some cayenne. Garlic. Roast it for as long as it takes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool. Slice and share with a loved one. Save some room for dessert.

This post was written in response to the prompt “5 Ways to Look at a Mistake” by Tweetspeak Poetry.

Header artwork by my kid. 🙂

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