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I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

—Jane Kenyon

From Otherwise, 1996
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Copyright 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. For further permissions information, contact Permissions Department Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave., Ste. 203, St Paul, MN 55114.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Jane Kenyon (1947–1995), former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, was the author of four volumes of poetry. Her collected poems were published by Graywolf Press in 2007.

Learn more about Jane Kenyon at The Poetry Foundation.