POETRY ... 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.
Reproduced from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems
by Lisel Mueller (Louisiana State University Press, 1996).
MUELLER Lisel [1924-] Poet. Born Lisel Neumann in Hamburg, Germany. Poetry Alive Together: New and Selected Poems (1996: winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry); Learning to Play by Ear (1990); Waving from Shore (1989); Second Language (1986); The Need to Hold Still (1980: winner of the 1981 National Book Award); Voices from the Forest (1977); The Private Life (1975); Dependencies (1965) Translation Marie Luise Kaschnitz’s Circe’s Mountain (1990)