Stonecoast Review Issue 5

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.

                       –Lisel Mueller
                       “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.