“Obligation is a rainy word,

out of date and dowdy and austere

as “duty,” unexpectedly severe,

and hardly ever, these past decades, heard


unless after the fact, to glue a label


on what preceded.  Late, the realization:

do what you have to.  Choice is not an option.

With little room, you cope as you are able.


That little room, that wiggle room, allows

at least a nod or headshake.  Yes or no:

landscapes you discover as you go,

prairie, valley, swamp, a stand of trees


Where darkness yields surprisingly to dawn

In the mind’s sky a hundred times a day.

Morning and evening, the old Q and A.

What should I wear?  Oh,  obligation.









Back to Archive

Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas

Wiggle Room by Rachel Hadas