I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now When I Was Younger – by Jonathan Travelstead

I wake to an earworm’s clunky lyrics,
fascinated how diction
can be so estranged from the music.
Still in bed, I google the words,
but soon find myself combing the internet
for bridges connecting here to there,

Second acts of legendary books
lost to time or fire.

The Book of the Battles of Yahweh.
A lost ingredient from Apicius’ Art of Cookery.
Forgetting the lyrics again,
I search for what might identify silphium,
a forgotten herb once used in ending
unwanted pregnancy.

Last night I dreamed of my Mother,
dead now for ten years. I remember she stood
in a blue doorway. Held my older brother
like Mary in The Pieta,
but gazed beyond her baby’s unformed body,
an early version of me whose name

she never told. Forgotten to time,
that lyric. But today. Today I find what’s missing
from Shakespeare’s Cardenio.
Today I will bridge at least one
grave matter of the heart.

Note: The title of this poem is a line from the song “Ooh La La” by The Faces.

Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter. Since finishing his MFA in Poetry at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he spends much of his time apprenticing as a gold- and silver-smith. His first collection, How We Bury Our Dead  (Cobalt Press), was released in March, 2015, and Conflict Tours (Cobalt Press) was released in 2017.