by Anna Meister
Poem For & After Me Too
Say all of us ever. I was told to stay lost. I couldn’t see through
the fog. Keys between my fingers. Because you think you get to speak right now.
He never said sorry. O intention. We cooked bacon together through the webcam. All the bruises
faded. It only happened once. He blocked my way to the stairs. The room’s windows were
small & high. I only learned the word six months ago. After hearing what you did,
I felt fevered, in search of scissors. It happened so many times. Everything I had
to restitch. First appointment, I said no when she asked. It happened because it could. It’s quiet,
but I know what’s behind me. Because of what I swallowed, I couldn’t say. I wasn’t
trying to dance with you. Heckling & having spilt no wine on his white pants. Whispering
my name, hair pulled in the hallway. Desk shaken. In my car, there’s not enough air.
To give it a name. There’s a moment before. After being asked Can you forgive me? This is how
I lived for months. When he “likes” my post about it. A night looped. Because they were told
not to say anything. The ceiling’s silence. Counting while it happens, keeps happening. & after,
the washing. Used to think just one out of three, like when we guessed who it’d be
at the sleepover. You say you don’t like to think about it. Whatever
I swallowed he kept refilling. The bridge cannot be uncrossed.
Whenever I see Camel-100’s, a green glass bottle. I don’t even know you.
But who’s made to apologize? I nearly forget the ache due to its permanence. Waiting
for the train, again. What I won’t name my baby. I can only draw circles.
If I am in front of you on the stairs. It happened when I wasn’t there. Even if
they only touched me or didn’t even, just called me something sharp. If it was only
my body, if the rest of me went somewhere by tunnel. I ask to stop remembering. This
needs to be shorter. A song looped. I stop counting. Absence representing a presence
is shocking & expected. There was a fall I didn’t leave my room. I am running
from it toward what? Everyone imaginable under the same light. In an attempt
to make you understand the problem.
Elegy with a Line from Mary Jo Bang
My mother’s feet are in the sand
when somehow a leaf stops by,
even though there are no near trees.
Here memory makes you unchangeable.
You, pictured tall with dark hair
under your Dodgers cap, listening to a secret
bent over a sizzling cast-iron skillet
or nudging laughter from the corner.
I haven’t written (about) you in so long.
Thought I got it all out. & still I miss you
today as I read elegy after elegy while
traveling to Kansas City
to attend someone else’s funeral
where I catch afternoon light pressed
through colored glass. I think of the blue
windows in the room where we spoke of you,
how I was a dumb child wearing orange.
I can’t believe no one told me No.
After the service we walk a labyrinth
marked with plastic forks, your ashes
pressed to my mother’s breasts
as if you too are walking. No more
chair with its buttons & functions,
all your limbs working & busy with work.
Unchangeable you. The leaf
that falls on her shoulder as she exits
the maze is what memory makes.
Anna Meister is author of the chapbook NOTHING GRANTED (dancing girl press, 2016) & holds an MFA in poetry from New York University, where she was a Goldwater Writing Fellow. Her poems have been published in publications such as Kenyon Review, Big Lucks, Tinderbox, & The Shallow Ends, & was a finalist for the 2017 National Poetry Series. She lives in Des Moines, IA & at www.anna-meister.com.