What Follows Is a Reconstruction Based on the Best Available Evidence

     1.   I ate eggs from a chafing dish while the baker reminded us: the only thing that will hurt you out here are your own bad decisions

     2.   I felt fettered then un-

     3.   I listened to the rain

     4.   I listened to the rain hitting the Carrier compressor, the gravel walk

     5.   I listened to the rain flattening the clover, I listened to the rain letting up and then it was ozone and drip

     6.   On the bench under the overhang in the rain I let myself pretend I was younger and childless, like the first time I arrived here

     7.   The first time I arrived here, I never thought I am small and luminous

     8.   The body, burdened and miraculous

     9.   The body as thin-nest boundary

     10.   I climbed into your body like a cave

     11.   I was frightened to walk in the dark

     12.   Late at night even my own movements became unknowable, magnified and rustling

     13.   The night cut by the moon, punctured by the whistle of the cargo train

     14.   There was only a hole, there was only forward and more forward

     15.   The inevitability of a scarred life, your pulse, stitches, this palace of breath

     16.   go on, go on / again, again / return, return

More by Erika Meitner

Untitled [and the moon once it stopped was sleeping]

and the moon         once it stopped         was sleeping

in the cold blue light          and the moon          while the wind snapped

vinyl siding apart          slipped around corners          whipped the neighbors'

carefully patterned bunchgrass          our snow-filled vegetable boxes

the house unjoining              the moon       our yard strips          covered with

hollow shells          of hard remnants               ice      and my son's breath

contiguous               static          a shard of green light          on the monitor

wavers with coughs                     the Baptist church                     in Catawba

the only place lit up          down the mountain          past midnight, someone

waving their hands             at something          so quiet              you can hear

the wind tear          at the houses          you can hear          the neighbor

coming home          though he's .18 acres          away          it's too late

for that feeling          (possibility)          the night       always   held

the wind                   is at it                    again            cracking

paint            on the walls              one day          it will            unroot us

one day        the wind        will tally        our losses

but        not yet             the moon        not yet

Non-lieux

Hand-painted on the side
of a shack we pass
on the road to Ohio:
what this world comin to?

This is not haiku. This
is more like fog and we’re
socked in and your body

is invisible and right
across from me
simultaneously.

How much ammo you got?
says one guy to another
in the cola-chip aisle
of the Food Lion.

The fortitude of rain
hitting the roof:
percussive sadness.

Almost-saved is not
good enough, says
the church sign. We are
out of ketchup again.

Did you see what he
put on Pete’s grave and
what he put on Junior’s?

says the woman in
the Bob Evans bath-
room stall with a cane.

It was sprained, not
broken. From high up,
from far away.

He was still working
at that bar in town,
after all these years,

assigned to a circum-
scribed position, like
the supermoon, like
employee parking.

In the dark 7-Eleven lot
two officers approach
a white van, flashlights on
and held overhand.

The church sign says
living without God
is like dribbling a football.

The light—it was
too bright to be captured
in an iPhone photo

where people are not
the urgency of the
present moment.

Did you get it squared
away?
asks one man to
another at the Starbucks
condiment counter.

One of the officers
has a hand on his
holster. What is he
saying to the driver?

The church sign touts
tonight’s sermon: Entering
the Miraculous Zone.

There were no grounds
for prosecution. I left
before I heard
the answer.

Ghost Eden

after Anthony Haughey’s “Settlement”

              Garden of rock.
Garden of brick and heather.
              Garden of cranes with their hands raised
as if they know the yellow answer:
              to gather together—safety in numbers.
Garden of drywall frames, holes for windows
              punched out like teeth.  Garden of bar fights.
Garden of rubble and gaps,
              spectral for-sale signs knocked
from wooden posts, bleached down
              to numbers ending in gardens of overgrown lots.
We are falling into ruin, garden
              of scaffolding and shale and gravel—
give us back our peace: a half-built garden
              of theft, treasures hidden in darkness,
newspapers crumpled on subfloors telling us
              to hold fast to that which is good.
Garden of rebar and saplings with trunks
              encased in corrugated piping
because many animals can girdle
              a tree’s bark quickly:  deer, stray cats, rabbits.
Garden of Tyvek wrap loosed
              and flapping like a ship’s sail
in the gales, in the sheeting storms.
              Hanging laundry left out in the garden
past darkness, fruit from the tree
              of human-ness: socks, shirts, underpants.
Garden of long exposures, half-light, traces
              that empty themselves in tire treads running
like ladders through red clay mud:
              the dirt from which we are formed
and crushed and formed again.

Related Poems

In the gloaming, in the roiling night

The hurt returns as it always intended—it is tender
as the inside of my thighs, it is as blue, too. O windless,

            wingless sky, show me your empire of loneliness,
let me spring from the jaws of what tried to kill me.

Let me look at your face and see a heaven worth having, all
                         your sorry angels falling off a piano bench, laughing.

Do you burn because you remember darkness? Outside
the joy is clamoring. It is almost like the worst day of your life

                                      is ordinary for everyone else.

from In Pieces

NATURAL 	

Though not real like thought or possibility. The pattern of my reading, beginning with there was, moves into the present. Like lifting a hand unsure whether to imitate duration or mimic passage. As long as form is never less than activity it’s not how the cookie crumbles, but simply that it falls apart. Happenstance. A hat. A window. Whirling leaves. Why not trust the rest will follow? In the dream I could not see you because you thought you were hanging from a trapeze.




TONE DEEP 	

No sound is less than a sound or more. But music keeps us from hearing each one by itself. Says John Cage. It is a pity. No mother tongue unless a mother. Or many books demanding we enter their superb monotony. What tongue would not allow us to say you in the deep sense, intimate? Years of melancholy, errors in pronounciation. Something in the middle slows down. So many times a day I do not speak any language. 




ANY SINGLE THING	

Is so complicated we can only give it a little shove with the knee. The cry of the gulls. The line between water and grammar. Horizon and interpretation. Between two blues. Field of error. My gestures not my own. Desire not a color. And the sound of the sea. Listen.




PRECONCEPTIONS WITHOUT DELAY	

Because light finds a place to fall. If intermittent. I can live in a small word and lose my head for another. Despite the slowness of my work. I’ve not explained, at best described in more elaborate terms. Opaque. Opaque, the space of hesitation, ricochet of recto verso. But the kiss. Is admirable, simple syntax, easy tale. Mouth undone at the lips.




THE PROBLEM WITH PRONOUNS	

All the bodies, one by one, the measure. Says Robert Creeley. Composite, containing simples, as surely as words are pleasure. The door, the white door, all the doors. To the small range of wavelengths called the visible world. We’ve attached names. So I could speak to you. Now something in the middle has come apart. The word “I” sits on my shoulders. Ready for carnage. 

:: Searching for My Own Body ::

Which is to say that like a good theoretical objectified body, my identity was created not by me but by the various desires and beliefs of those around me. 
– Daniel Borzutzky
 
My body is a small cave door                     
it’s a slick whale 	a jubilant
sea of tall grass that sways
& makes its way across countries          
& lovers             I love	        love-making
I don’t remember a time when             
I wasn’t interested in touch
I have these breasts
& some 	         would want to come     
on hands 		      & knees to worship them               
call me flower   	      or         	       desert
Maybe I was only supposed to be
stone or a baby eel                    
long & layered		          a nun?
I don’t remember ever saying  
              yes 		      just	 no
I am searching   for my own body    
not the one I was told is so                    
I want to be always  open                
	     like a canyon
Maybe I was only supposed to be           
tree or temple              
In some circles I am
just an open gate          
a sinful  bauble  

Once someone said you are 	       this      
& I  never questioned it

I am searching		           my own body   
for        	        God      

or someone like her—