Poets and storytellers
move into the vacancies
Edward Hopper left them.
They settle down in blank spaces,
where the light has been scoured and bleached
skull-white, and nothing grows
except absence. Where something is missing,
the man a woman waits for,
or furniture in a room
stripped like a hospital bed
after the patient has died.
Such bereft interiors
are just what they’ve been looking for,
the writers, who come with their baggage
of dowsing rods and dog-eared books,
their uneasy family photographs,
their lumpy beds, their predilection
for starting fires in empty rooms.
From “Alive Together,” by Lisel Mueller (Louisiana State University Press: 223 pp., $23.95). Reprinted by permission. Mueller is the winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.