Hermine Meinhard


Working Note

In the post-9/11 dialogue, the call for a language of feelings and the idea of fragmentation as a way into open-ness were most resonant for me.

One of the surprises in the days after 9/11 was the tenderness with which people treated each other. It was as if a taboo had been broken and another level of our experience and links with each other arose. Though I have not written directly about 9/11, I've struggled in the last couple of years with loss, the death of my father, and the inaccessibility of the parts of myself most capable of feeling.

These poems are assembled bits of dream, memory and observation and in that sense feel personal, though I suspect they also operate as sites of resistance. They are difficult to translate into the language of the linear mind. What I'm always trying for is to reveal, haunt or open the awareness to something "other," deeper, and elusive that cannot be broken down.


The Messengers





you come close to me
a dog a little blind dog
I take off my shoes and lie on the table
the little blind one washes me


tell me the story

   the one about the breath,
          the other, about the body


I forgot how dark it was

    how it was to be alone with you

(someone drew a circle of blood
and dropped you in)

I don't know who I am, descending into



The Messengers

And when I saw you I thought you could be another I once knew.

The gypsy swept the street with water. You spoke and I held back. But later, remembering, the pleasure, sheer physical pleasure of it. I saw you then in the market, watching me. Said you had watched me a long time.

Ice in a glass, you showed me, folded over itself. You poured sand into a cup and made as if to drink it. The others took the water in jars back to their hotel where the boy sat with the oranges.

The train ride, dreaming of the oranges, three recognizable, the others not. The irises, the black plate, the fennel water. Later you took me aside and disassembled the whole thing. You talked to the other couples sipping the ladled water and I said goodby over and over to the cabaret singer.

Your back, a yellow spoon. Water hung off your face and I felt you all over.

You threw the irises down and held the penny up to your eye. The penny mirrored the river.

Then all of the women in the building, the landlord's wife, the cabaret singer, the others, went out, and Lobelio, the messenger, came in.




a long sheaf of hair
and a flyleaf
and a hair
cracked open

the curtains open and you
find yourself in a small
very small box-like space

and women singing their throats cut

the heads were gone and the throats were
actual sky greeting you


The wings of the sky open

To see with eyes closed
and to walk there
a light
and a heaviness in the bowel
your sadness, your face


The sound of the water moving swiftly across your face
is also a lover

When you see yourself you see your arms spread out before you

And with the throat the world is seen
What holds you to the world?


Bio: Hermine Meinhard's book Bright Turquoise Umbrella is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in Spring, 2004. Her poems have appeared, or will soon be seen, in la petite zine, Barrow Street, Luna, The Prose Poem, Sonora Review, Kalliope, 13 th Moon and other journals. She is poetry editor of 3rd bed and teaches poetry at NYU and the New York Writers Workshop. She lives in New York City.

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