After Reading “My Favorite Kingdom”

By: Carolyn Martin

Dear Li-Young Lee,

Just so you know, Mr. Lee, I don’t play favorites.

There’s too much at stake to settle on one choice.

Purple would be upset if I chose blue

and the sunset might pout if I fancied

the moment before the moment of its rise.

Certainly, Monday through Saturday

would feel snubbed if I crowned Sunday #1.

There’s just no way to spotlight one regret,

surprise, or accomplishment. Not to mention

relationships tripped over or plowed through,

thinking each was it. As for a movie, poem,

or vocalist, I’d rebuff a thousand well-deserves

for Tootsie, “A Blessing,” and Barbra Streisand.

Come to think of it, my parents called me

their #1––which had nothing to do

with favorites. First-born-only-girl,

first communion, first to graduate,

first to leave home—not for career or mate––

but for veil, vows, and convent walls. Not

their first choice for the 18-year-old

my mother swore would not obey. I fooled

her for twenty years. Then she got her way.

But what if I were charged with cowardice

unless I scrounged up a few preferences?

How about these, Li-Young: when someone says

they love my poems enough to read them twice

or that my speaking voice is musical.

Add those morning romps around the yard

with the feral cat who thinks she’s a mutt

or the second I knew shame was a waste

of time. Perhaps that’s the key to your domain:

everything ambitious, everything mundane

is prime––like the feel of clean sheets

or the fists of clouds enraging the sky. 

Carolyn Martin, blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 200 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Find out more at

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