My Life Before I Knew It
By Lawrence Raab
I liked rainy days
when you didn't have to go outside and play.
At night I'd tell my sister
there were snakes under her bed.
When I mowed the lawn I imagined being famous.
Cautious and stubborn, unwilling to fail,
I knew for certain what I didn't want to know.
I hated to dance. I hated baseball,
and collected airplane cards instead.
I learned to laugh at jokes I didn't get.
The death of Christ moved me,
but only at the end of Ben Hur.
I thought Henry Mancini was a great composer.
My secret desire was to own a collie
who would walk with me in the woods
when the leaves were falling
and I was thinking about writing the stories
that would make me famous.
Sullen, overweight, melancholy,
writers didn't have to be good at sports.
They stayed inside for long periods of time.
They often wore glasses. But strangers
were moved by what they accomplished
and wrote them letters. One day
one of those strangers would introduce
herself to me, and then
the life I'd never been able to foresee
would begin, and everything
before I became myself would appear
necessary to the rest of the story.