By Now Our Lives Should Have Crossed
Written By: Ted Deppe
(Poem from Liminal Blue, Forthcoming from Arlen House in 2016)
Somewhere sometime we must have
passed one another like going and coming trains,
with both of us looking the other way.
“Palindrome,” Alive Together
It’s 3 a.m. in the Kreuzberg flat we sublet
from friends, and I’m looking through Eva’s library,
I’m whispering, Ask, and it shall be given you,
words that may be the Lord’s
but it was my mother’s voice tonight
that spoke them and woke me —
Seek, and ye shall find, and the book
my hand discovers is written by a woman
born on 8 February 1924. The same day
as my mother. From Germany, where she says
her family’s bookshelves connected heaven and earth,
I follow Lisel Mueller to the American Midwest
and find that in 1953 she and my mother
lived in the same town. 1953, the year
Mueller’s mother died, the year she began writing
because, she said, the world went on
blossoming, and language was the only thing
that would grieve with me. Now, my mother
has died, and I read closely, searching for something,
evidence perhaps that once these women met.
Oh, Bloomington, Indiana, I always knew you
to be a thin place where worlds could overlap;
since they both loved music, maybe these time-twins
found themselves next to each other
at a School of Music concert? Mueller and Brahms
were both born in Hamburg,
so let’s say the concert was the German Requiem,
where Brahms perhaps gave back to the poet
the city of her childhood that history burned.
Lisel Mueller, tonight I read words you wrote
in the heartland where I was born, and I’m
up much too early in your nocturnal Germany,
where your poems are like trying on another life,
the way I borrow the coat of my friend, Eoin,
and step out into starry Berlin. Oh, Knock,
and it shall be opened unto you. So often
I’ve enjoyed the sound of someone
singing as they passed beneath my window,
and now it’s me circling the block, offering
my voice to the one night that circles us all.
Ted Deppe is the author of five books of poems. A sixth book, Liminal Blue, will be published in Ireland in 2016 by Arlen House. A recipient of two grants from the NEA and a Pushcart Prize, Ted has taught creative writing in graduate programs in the U.S., Ireland, and England.
He is on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program and directs Stonecoast in Ireland. He and his wife, poet Annie Deppe, are dual U.S. and Irish citizens and since 2000 have lived for the most part on the west coast of Ireland.