Curriculum Vitae

Lisel Mueller

 

1992

1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea.
2) In the year of my birth, money was shredded into
confetti. A loaf of bread cost a million marks. Of
course I do not remember this.
3) Parents and grandparents hovered around me. The
world I lived in had a soft voice and no claws.
4) A cornucopia filled with treats took me into a building
with bells. A wide-bosomed teacher took me in.
5) At home the bookshelves connected heaven and earth.
6) On Sundays the city child waded through pinecones
and primrose marshes, a short train ride away.
7) My country was struck by history more deadly than
earthquakes or hurricanes.
8) My father was busy eluding the monsters. My mother
told me the walls had ears. I learned the burden of secrets.
9) I moved into the too bright days, the too dark nights
of adolescence.
10) Two parents, two daughters, we followed the sun
and the moon across the ocean. My grandparents stayed
behind in darkness.
11) In the new language everyone spoke too fast. Eventually
I caught up with them.
12) When I met you, the new language became the language
of love.
13) The death of the mother hurt the daughter into poetry.
The daughter became a mother of daughters.
14) Ordinary life: the plenty and thick of it. Knots tying
threads to everywhere. The past pushed away, the future left
unimagined for the sake of the glorious, difficult, passionate
present.
15) Years and years of this.
16) The children no longer children. An old man's pain, an
old man's loneliness.
17) And then my father too disappeared.
18) I tried to go home again. I stood at the door to my
childhood, but it was closed to the public.
19) One day, on a crowded elevator, everyone's face was younger
than mine.
20) So far, so good. The brilliant days and nights are
breathless in their hurry. We follow, you and I.
 
From Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by Lisel Mueller, published by Louisiana State University Press. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Further Reading

Poems About Birth and Parenting
A Woman Waits for Me
by Walt Whitman
Acrobat
by Elise Paschen
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
by Galway Kinnell
Before the Birth of One of Her Children
by Anne Bradstreet
Central Park, Carousel
by Meena Alexander
Daughter-Mother-Maya-Seeta
by Reetika Vazirani
Gods
by Michael Redhill
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
Honey
by Arielle Greenberg
In a Landscape: IV
by John Gallaher
Infant Joy
by William Blake
Lost in thought, the baby
by Rebecca Wolff
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
Motherhood, 1951
by Ai
Shoulders
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Difference between a Child and a Poem
by Michael Blumenthal
The Mother
by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Tract
by William Carlos Williams
Wedding Album 1977
by Tess Taylor
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood