Working Toward a Definition of Luck
by Charles Rafferty
What are the odds that I would walk that beach
the week before a storm rearranged everything,
and pick out this particular fist of quartz
from the tideline—and like it so well
I brought it back to my hotel and stowed it
in my bag? Too high even to guess, I imagine,
considering the million similar fists,
the fact that I was there on that beach only
because my flight was canceled
and I had a few hours to fill before clearing out
of that city I would soon never see again.
And now it sits beside my dictionary
and a photograph of my family. It’s something
everyone picks up and turns over in their hands
for its pleasurable heft. It cannot stop
broadcasting the fact of its own unlikelihood.
Nothing can. Dig up your own yard if you want
to understand. Just a bunch of roots
and buried trash—things that intended to stay
hidden from your touch. If an arrowhead
sifts into your hands—the arrowhead
you’ve been searching for all your life—
think of the flight that brought it there:
the bounding deer, the ripped leaves
of the bittersweet, how the breeze
on the animal’s neck could only have felt like luck.
Charles Rafferty’s tenth book of poetry is The Unleashable Dog (2014, Steel Toe Books). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Southern Review, and Prairie Schooner. His collection of short fiction is Saturday Night at Magellan’s (2013, Fomite Press). Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.