by Dana Gioia
Of course it was doomed. I know that now,
but it ended so quickly, and I was young.
I hardly remember that summer in Seattle—
except for her. The city seems just a rainy backdrop.
From the moment I first saw her at the office
I was hooked. I started visiting her floor.
I couldn’t work unless I caught a glimpse of her.
Once we exchanged glances, but we never spoke.
Then at a party we found ourselves alone.
We started kissing and ended up in bed.
We talked all night. She claimed she had liked me
secretly for months. I wonder now if that was true.
Two weeks later her father had a heart attack.
While she was in Chicago, they shut down our division.
I was never one for writing letters.
On the phone we had less to say each time.
And that was it—just those two breathless weeks,
then years of mild regret and intermittent speculation.
Being happy is mostly like that. You don’t see it up close.
You recognize it later from the ache of memory.
And you can’t recapture it. You only get to choose
whether to remember or forget, whether to feel remorse
or nothing at all. Maybe it wasn’t really love.
But who can tell when nothing deeper ever came along?
“Being Happy” by Dana Gioia from 99 Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2016.