What I Wanted

by Margaret Chula

image by  Brooke Cagle

image by Brooke Cagle


All my life, I wanted to ride bareback on a tiger through

the jungles of Borneo, to race by warthogs gorging on

pineapples, past headhunters with their poisonous darts

sheathed, mouths agape.


I wanted to outstrip Lady Godiva—her everlasting tresses,

her smirk of satisfaction shocking even Adam and Eve

as they cavorted in their own pleasure.


I wanted to be a swan on a lake in Shangri-La, folding

my wings around a lover as I glided past frogs, their lips

puckered like princes’ before they plopped into mud.


I longed to find paradise in a place. To lie in a hammock

on the island of Boracay, swaddled in a sarong, reading

Lady Chatterley’s Lover while peeling back the bruised

skins of mangosteens.


Instead, I spent my childhood looking out at an ash pile

in the back yard where Nana would empty ashes

from the wood stove and later toss in the limp kitten

run over by a speeding car on Bennett Meadow Road.


I made my heaven on King Phillip’s Hill—building a fort,

shooting arrows into the spines of birches, galloping

on my imaginary pony down the Mayflower Trail.


Instead, I passed my thirteenth summer on Maple Street

lying in the grass reading about Scarlett and Rhett

and her beloved plantation, my tomboy knees hidden

beneath pedal pushers waiting for the moment


when I’d peel off the scabs and begin to live.


Margaret Chula


Margaret Chula

Margaret Chula has published eight collections of poetry including, most recently, Daffodils at Twilight. Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council have supported her work as well as fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and Playa. She has served as president of the Tanka Society of America and as Poet Laureate for Friends of Chamber Music. Living in Kyoto for twelve years, she now makes her home in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at: www.margaretchula.com.