What She Could Have Been…

A Friend.

Laughing in the corner of your bedroom.

Helping you with your homework.

Dancing on an elevated surface beside you.

Holding your hair back.

Wiping your tears.

Telling you it would be okay.

 

A Graduate.

Class of 2021.

A black gown adorned with cords.

A black cap decorated with her favorite quote.

Top of her class.

Her family cheering in the audience.

The first to graduate college.

 

A Successful Woman.

Becoming a Master of Fine Arts.

Writing a book of poetry.

Working as a publisher for a magazine.

Taking the subway home to her loft apartment.

Snuggling up with her puppy.

Finishing a bottle of Merlot.

 

A Wife.

Save the date.

A white mermaid gown from Kleinfeld’s.

A fifty-year-old lace veil yellow with age.

Something borrowed.

Her husband crying at the end of the aisle.

The wedding her mother always dreamed of.

 

A Mother.

Glowing with pregnancy.

Rocking him to sleep in her arms.

Holding his hand while he learned to walk.

Teaching him to ride a bike.

Wiping his tears when he crashed.

Telling him it would be okay.

 

Alive.

If someone would have wiped her tears.

If someone would have told her it’d be okay.

 

Analysis

Overall, the subject of the poem is a young, female college student who struggled with depression and ended her own life. The poem provides a list of things she could have been had someone taken the time to see through her façade and help her with her struggles. Here is a breakdown of each stanza to help you better understand.

Stanza 1

The first stanza is vital to the poem, but it is also unique from the other stanzas. It is unique because the character has already been acting as a friend up until her life ended, yet she could have continued being a good friend had she not committed suicide. It is vital to the poem because it depicts the character in a relatable, universal way. She had friends she hung out with and studied with. She went out to parties and was always the girl helping her other friends. This stanza shows that you never know what someone could be going through. Their outward actions and lifestyles might not always be an indicator.

Stanza 2

The second stanza explains that she is currently enrolled in college and is the first one in her family to go. It shows the potential that was wasted because she was so smart, but it also implies the pressure she was under, which could be a factor in poor mental health.

Stanza 3

The third stanza portrays what she could have gone on to do after graduation.  It is implied that the character moved to a big city to attend graduate school and pursue her career goals. Many English majors go to graduate school to receive a Master’s of Fine Arts, which allows them to be more qualified for higher paying/more complex jobs. Hypothetically, the character would have been happy and content at this stage in her life.

Stanza 4

The fourth stanza continues through the character’s life journey. At some point, she met Mr. Right and is now getting married. She got the wedding dress of her dreams from Kleinfeld’s in New York City. She has borrowed her grandmother’s veil that has been passed down and is having a big church wedding. Her mother is living vicariously through her because she never got the opportunity to have that.

Stanza 5

The fifth stanza is right on track with the nursery rhyme. After marriage comes the baby in the baby carriage. Had the character made it through her poor mental health, she would have brought another life into the world. As she took care of her friends, she would care for her child in the same loving way.

Stanza 6

The final stanza uses repeated lines to emphasize that she only needed someone to do for her what she had been doing for others. It is a simple solution to what could be a life-threatening issue. All it takes is being there. Taking the time out of your own day to ask someone else how they are doing. The point of the poem is to reiterate that you do not know what someone is going through mentally. Many people don’t care until it is too late. This is your reminder to care while you have the chance.