How to make a promise


by Francine Witte

First of all, know it can break.

It is eggshell.  It is the last frozen

lake of March, splintered and ice-

hollow, and crossing it will take

some risk.  Add in words like if

and maybe.  Throw in a detail

about your dying catmotherdog.

Nothing hospital. Nothing you want

to be true.  As the promise day nears,

practice words like traffic and running

behind.  Tell yourself you will learn

to be a better person.  Remember

that this is a promise, too.  If you

end up keeping your promise, buy

a bag of confetti and plan your own

parade.  Puff out your chest as you

show up or call, or whatever it is

that you said you would do.  Pretend

not to hear that almost silent sigh

of relief as the other person sits down

or answers the phone.  Above all, remember

that they have just kept a promise, too.