1. The poet travels light & washes his clothes in the hotel sink A woman in DC tells him she saw him in NY & he was wearing the same clothes He is in Wisconsin now & he is still wearing them Childhood, a plane we board in our pajamas, fly over an ocean to arrive in a country where no one speaks our language Which country? Which language? Which mother? If you have 2 you can never have both But then all are divided at birth. All mothers, all children Divided at birth. God always. Us always if we could stop moving if we could stop talking Arms could catch us— hold us tight again We could hear God’s voice our name or our mothers calling What keeps you alive in a new century the same old bitter sleeplessness? Regrets? Happy endings are still endings I want a beginning I want grace I want to learn to count to 100 in 7 different languages learn scales on my daughter’s violin I don’t want to learn all of anything to learn anything that has a purpose I already know God is in the building in the hall outside this room 2. At night I remember my life as a French Jew in another life in a land I never left in an army transport in a strange woman’s arms From Chapter 4—in which I am 51 What life does not have us? This is not the beginning not an end not even the middle properly speaking unless I live to be 102 already, the course has been laid down like flower beds like whores going to bed to sleep Vestibule? Do I have, have I ever had a vestibule? By class, by height please form perfect lines Write in a disciplined hand the X of a disciplined mind 3. In his introduction my friend uses the title of a poetry manuscript sent in the mail— Good Enough By The Supreme Being I hope you know I am a bit tired of this, God says in the first poem & who isn’t? I want to answer. After all these years, I’m more than weary—I am bored. Armageddon calls out like a good game of Bingo 4. Isn’t this us? The ones drinking coffee with creamer? Why can no one remember the milk? Out the window I can see the barn where the university keeps cows I took my children to see the one with the porthole in its side the cud moving past the little window like green socks in the dryer What would it feel like having a window in my side? Does the cow mind that we stare? Would I take it as a complement? Or is my writing just that—window/peep show When I wrote a memoir my husband said, You honestly think no one is going to read what you write there Which wasn’t true I did. But not any one I knew. Strangers who lived in towns with better bookstores Strangers would know everything about me— not my friends not my family Would the cow be embarrassed if it were cows, not people staring? Or perhaps perhaps— none of this is true I am not in Wisconsin a woman with two good children one very bad dog sitting in a poetry reading given by a man who says he almost died on the plane here Small plane, he says, very windy It rose & rose—then fell 5. Sometimes I think God fell in love with us In love like you do with a puppy In love like a mother does with her child The puppy turned dog child grown up love changes— or does it? I love a dozen people now dead Standing outside time, does God grieve? How many dead can he remember? I told my son about my death— this was in a dream He said I would come back as a bird or come back as something made of aluminum Though, sometimes, he said we are reborn to embody a virtue— Charity, maybe, or Grace We were on a school bus & when we got off, God was waiting as he always was in the place that had always been home 6. After seeing men & women without skin in The Human Body, my daughter said, “Don’t the people in the lobby look way overdressed?”

JESSE LEE KERCHEVAL is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction and memoir. Her latest are the poetry collection Cinema Muto (SIU Press, 2009), which won a Crab Orchard Open Selection Award, and The Alice Stories (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), which won the Prairie School Fiction Book Prize. Her novella, Brazil, which won the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Prize, will be published by the the Cleveland State University Poetry Center this spring. She is the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin.