This evening (1st Feb 2019) I am reading a story on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, hosted by Ian McMillan.
The original commission was to write something using the subjunctive mood (roughly, a way of speaking about what didn’t or hasn’t happened).
In recording the programme, with the poets Holly Pester and Mella Elfyn, and listening to grammarian Rob Drummond, I have learned a lot more about this (and the irrealis). But this is what I wrote, when I was starting to get my ideas together:
If only the future were certain,
if only the past could be changed,
if only our present condition
could be rearranged, then tested and then rearranged.
If only my mother were living
to see how her grandkids get on.
If only my dad could remember
my childhood, my name, or that I am his son.
If only my wife could forgive me
those things that I shouldn’t have said.
If only my husband if only my husband
if only my husband were dead.
If only she’d gone to the doctor’s
the first time she noticed the pain,
and then when they said it was nothing
had gone back again and again, and again and again and again.
If only he’d left a bit later
a moment, not hardly a load,
he wouldn’t have hit the A6 when he did
nor been hit by that stone from the wheel of that van on the opposite side of the road.