Poem of the Week, by Lisel Mueller

IMG_2176Once, 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.

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