Mary Kovaleski Byrnes’ “Maybe This Happens to Everyone”

Poem: Maybe This Happens to Everyone
Poet: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes
Magazine: inter|rupture (Best of the Net Winner)
Blogger: D. Glazebrook

The poem starts out with a woman laying in bed with a man.  The woman speaking in this poem is describing how beautiful Paris is, but is really describing the summer romance she is having while being in the city.  The two visit different sites in the city but the woman can’t focus on them because she’s so focused on this guy.  She’s making it seem that life has no worries and that her and the man she is with are just two young people in love.  They don’t care about what other people think about their public display of affection.  She described people looking at the two of them by saying “their faces like mirrors”.  I think this means that anyone who looked at them saw the joy they were feeling and it made them happy to see this, or made them want to be in the same position (happy and in love).

The woman is describing this feeling as a “flame” or “fire”; “at night the flames were in my hair, the flames were in his mouth, and each street unrolled like a tongue that gave us what we couldn’t understand”.  This imagery makes me just picture how much fun they’re having, running up and down the streets, probably a little buzzed, not having a care in the world.  She later says, “maybe this happens to everyone, in every city, even in small towns, where corn fields catch fire at the end of summer and teenagers tear off their clothes and run naked through them”.  She talks about how the flame will get so close to these teenagers but won’t even singe them.  This sounds like the kids are “playing with fire”.  It’s a young summer love and they know that it’s probably all just for fun and could get hurt in the end, but at the time, they’re just having fun and don’t care about what could happen later.

The poem ends with trains coming and going and the couple stays behind (skipping their train).  It sounds like they’re trying to live in this love forever but it won’t last, no matter how hard they try; “it won’t brand them, won’t even singe, no matter how hard they run”.  It won’t be something that “brands” them and lasts forever, like a scar.  It is temporary and they need to live in the moment.

I really liked this poem because it perfectly describes a “summer love”; something that a lot of people want to experience at least once in their life.  What better city to describe this in than Paris?

Published by


The literary journal of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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