Lisel Mueller

(February 8, 1924)

Five For Country Music Poem by Lisel Mueller


I. Insomnia

The bulb at the front door burns and burns.
If it were a white rose it would tire of blooming
through another endless night.

The moon knows the routine;
it beats the bushes from east to west
and sets empty-handed. Again the one
she is waiting for has outrun the moon.

II. Old Money

The spotted hands shake as they polish the coins.

The shiny penny goes under the tongue,
the two silver pieces
weighted by pyramids
will shut down the eyes.

All the rest is paper,
useless in any world but this.

III. Home Movie

She knows that walk, that whistle, that knock.

It's the black wolf who sticks
his floured paw underneath the door.

She tries not to open. One look at his face
and she'll drop the gun. He will pick it up
and turn it on her where she waits,
her eyes shining, her hands over her head.

IV. Golden Boy

Whitewashed, the eyes refuse you.

And so the mouth must be serene,
the muscles play, the body
take an easy stance

to divert you from the two
boarded-up chambers
where someone has died.

V. Washing Day

Each year her laundry line gets lighter.
One by one they disappear,
ten little Indians. They take their socks,
their jeans, their stiff plaid shirts.

Above the Ford on its concrete blocks,
striped and zippered,
her cotton dress flutters on and on.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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