When I am asked   
how I began writing poems,   
I talk about the indifference of nature.   

It was soon after my mother died,   
a brilliant June day,   
everything blooming.   

I sat on a gray stone bench   
in a lovingly planted garden,   
but the day lilies were as deaf   
as the ears of drunken sleepers   
and the roses curved inward.   
Nothing was black or broken   
and not a leaf fell   
and the sun blared endless commercials   
for summer holidays.   

I sat on a gray stone bench   
ringed with the ingenue faces   
of pink and white impatiens   
and placed my grief   
in the mouth of language,   
the only thing that would grieve with me.

  • Lisel Mueller, "When I am Asked" from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller.  Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

  • Source: Alive Together: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I actually enjoy poetry! When I started participating in the Poetry Out Loud competition in the 9th grade I hated poetry, but as I continued to participate over the years I grew a love and appreciation for the art form, and poetry is now a part of my identity."
Irvin Mason, Jr.
2016 USVI POL Champion