Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I Need the Birds

When I hear them call
in the morning, before
I am quite awake,
my bed is already traveling
the daily rainbow,
the arc toward evening;
and the birds, leading
their own discreet lives
of hunger and watchfulness,
are with me all the way,
always a little ahead of me
in the long-practiced manner
of unobtrusive guides.

By the time I arrive at evening,
they have just settled down to rest;
already invisible, they are turning
into the dreamwork of trees;
and all of us together —
myself and the purple finches,
the rusty blackbirds,
the ruby cardinals,
and the white-throated sparrows
with their liquid voices —
ride the dark curve of the earth
toward daylight, which they announce
from their high lookouts
before dawn has quite broken for me.
     -Lisel Mueller

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


She got her sadness from her mother
Too much sorrow in one life
Spilt over onto her own
All the way from the Antilles the pain traveled
Settling in her beautiful bones and sweet skin
This restless state of melancholy
Brought about by displacement and death
Welting unwanted scars on the soul
Her wounded heart so full of love
Compounded over the generations
Given like skin color, this melancholy
A heritage of ancient wounds
Occasionally numbed but not healed
She looked for an uneasy answer
Still, I loved that restless look

and the inscrutable charm of her secrets
When her glorious dark eyes looked past me
To somewhere I could not be
 Her moods were mercurial, unpredictable
Quiet photographs captured this absence
This search for anything to make it soften
She got her sadness from her mother
The real dark, ache of forever loss
The heavy weight of never to be
My anxious love reached to share
What could never be divided between strangers
While the world adored her distractions
Only alcohol and passion’s sweat
Allowed her short freedoms
I could never stop loving her
No more than I could end my breathing
Or dreaming or yearning or hoping
Yet, she stopped hearing my heart beat
Seeing me there, seeing through me
She always came home to her mother’s tears