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DONNA MARIA CHRISTINE MEISNER
by Caroline Carver

Each time we stand on the beach
watching sea creep in over sand
(pretending it’s the first time it’s done this creeping business)

poems stir in our heads

sleepily raising their heads from attics where they lie in serried rows
unzipping their sleeping bags
apologising to neighbours
as they step over them on their way to the bathroom

Going to a party is different
poems don’t do much creeping then
jump out as if they’ve found a mouse the cat brought in
(don’t laugh this has happened)

to slide into each other’s spaces murmuring
“hold me - just for a bit - something frightened me”

the next morning poems totter down to the kitchen
demanding milk and prairie oysters
swear they’ll never go off the rails again -

this is how it is most of the time

but sometimes someone
who hasn’t visited the attic before
shakes the nearest poem
out of its complacency

like Donna Maria Christine Meisner
who came through centuries
all the way from Brazil
to tell me my life has been spent
looking at the wrong things

I thought her spectacles were broken
but they were not
one was a frame without a lens
“to look carefully into this world”
the other a darkened glass “to see the hereafter”

I hold her hand so it covers my eyes
say
“hold me - just for a bit - something frightens me”

 

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