Once, when he was about eight, my son looked up at me and said, “Mama, what if we’re all characters in a book, and someone is writing us right now?”
Once, before the scale at the Y was digital, I stepped on it ready to maneuver the sliding weights, only to find that the unknown woman who had stood on it before me weighed, to the ounce, exactly as much as me.
Somehow those two memories are connected, and somehow the poem below brings them back to me. I don’t understand why we are here in the world, or what the meaning of our lives is. I don’t understand why life is so unfair. Sometimes I wonder if there is a shadow Alison in a nearby, invisible world, living an alternate Alison life, and if she has the answers I don’t.
In November, by Lisel Mueller
Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.
For more information about Lisel Mueller, please click here.