Wednesday, April 16, 2014

why we tell stories

Because we used to have leaves 
and on damp days 
our muscles feel a tug, 
painful now, from when roots 
pulled us into the ground 

and because our children believe 
they can fly, an instinct retained 
from when the bones in our arms 
were shaped like zithers and broke 
neatly under their feathers 

and because before we had lungs 
we knew how far it was to the bottom 
as we floated open-eyed 
like painted scarves through the scenery 
of dreams, and because we awakened 

and learned to speak 

We sat by the fire in our caves, 
and because we were poor, we made up a tale 
about a treasure mountain 
that would open only for us 

and because we were always defeated, 
we invented impossible riddles 
only we could solve, 
monsters only we could kill, 
women who could love no one else 
and because we had survived 
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, 
we discovered bones that rose 
from the dark earth and sang 
as white birds in the trees 

Because the story of our life 
becomes our life 

Because each of us tells 
the same story 
but tells it differently 

and none of us tells it 
the same way twice 

Because grandmothers looking like spiders 
want to enchant the children 
and grandfathers need to convince us 
what happened happened because of them 

and though we listen only 
haphazardly, with one ear, 
we will begin our story 
with the word and

~ Lisel Mueller

with thanks to wiskey river


erin said...