Motherhood Literature + Art

Erika Meitner

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Erika Meitner


“I know backwards the grief of life like chance” – Bernadette Mayer

o the music,
we have to hurry

and drive and sit
and call and wait

and once, we were
silent we stood
in a darkened hospital

hallway mute on a sunday
until someone said
go home, so still

we wait—and time, it ticks
like a hammer driving nails

into lumber. the frame is up
on the house down the hill
that blocks the view of (our)

mountains that don’t belong
to anyone, that no one can claim
and all we can do is

hang on, wait and swear again
that we’ve never been busted
(meaning caught, meaning broke)

answer all the questionnaires
on felonies (violent and non-)
and register once more

with every required
government agency
and wait to be chosen

(three hundred and eighty seven
days and counting) to get
decided upon:

this visitation—angels, infants, birth-
parents, gutter punks, fragile boxcars and

beds of pickup trucks, unnamed memories
obscured by feedback of so many items elsewise
to lose, that we wait on to be lost: a name
like reverb, your fortune the second
joyful mystery, a coming where
someone leapt and someone else remarked

I just can’t believe it—
it’s like she told me

and told me
and told me.

Erika Meitner is the author of four books of poems, including Ideal Cities (Harper Perennial, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner, and Copia (BOA Editions, 2014). She is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the undergraduate and MFA programs in Creative Writing.


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