Lisel Mueller - 1924-
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.