881: She Loves Me, She Love Me Not

881: She Loves Me, She Love Me Not

881: She Loves Me, She Love Me Not


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

On our way to the airport in Athens, my son and I decided to make a detour — just one more tourist site. We chose the Ancient Theater at Epidaurus, the former temple to the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios. You know him, the one with the staff and serpent. Just as we arrived, the guards announced to those of us waiting in line that the famed outdoor theater was to be closed for several hours, due to extreme summer temperatures. I was crestfallen. I mean, here was one of the amazing monuments of classical architecture, just on the other side of a ticket booth.

I had an idea; on the way in, I saw an unguarded entrance for employees. As soon as Romie and I slipped past an open gate, I knew we should stop and turn around. I mean what kind of example was I setting? But I couldn’t help myself. We were so close. We looked around and with no one in sight, took a few steps, a few steps more, and there it was: the ancient theater emptied of people, beautiful and majestic, its chipped stone seats fanning up to a crisp blue sky.

As soon as we were on our third selfie, we heard a shout. “Hey, hey! What are you doing? What are you doing here? It’s closed. I’m calling the police.” A woman ran towards us. We froze. Was I ever more embarrassed?

Why do we make bad decisions, whether reasoned or rash, when we know deep down that they are not sound? In my case, one that almost had me miss a transcontinental flight. I don’t believe people when they announce they have no regrets. I find feelings of regret slightly useful. They help us muse over missed opportunities or hasty actions. Regrets remind us to do better. To be more careful.

I think of the inventors who express remorse over what they brought into the world including the inventor of the emoticon, the AK-47, creator of the K-Cup, the original breeder of the Labradoodle. Everyday they were reminded of how their inventions interfered with the course of life.

Today’s poem digs into the value of hindsight that is gained after a decision is made. Smartly, the poem uses an extended conceit and the language of the Scientific Method to dramatize our actions and their negative outcomes.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
by Desirée Alvarez

Did you study three centuries of storm

Are you thinking you know them now

Have you measured all the temperatures of surface, of sea, of upper air

Assimilated the data, validated the models, assembled the atmospheres

Were there uncertainties, anomalies, random noises, biases

How careful a watch did you keep

Will you make a better weather for the crops, for the birds, for the beasts

Was it all worth it

Extravagant and rash one, are you now wistful

Do you want to fasten back the petals

Are you thinking about the flower

How yellow was the center, how velvety the whorl

Can you still smell her rusty perfume on the wind?

“She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” by Desirée Alvarez from DEVIL'S PAINTBRUSH © 2016, Desirée Alvarez. Used by permission of Bauhan Publishing.