the atrocity of sunsets
When I Am Asked by Lisel Mueller

When I am asked  
how I began writing poems,  
I talk about the indifference of nature.  
It was soon after my mother died,  
a brilliant June day,  
everything blooming.  

I sat on a gray stone bench  
in a lovingly planted garden,  
but the day lilies were as deaf  
as the ears of drunken sleepers  
and the roses curved inward.  
Nothing was black or broken  
and not a leaf fell  
and the sun blared endless commercials  
for summer holidays.  

I sat on a gray stone bench  
ringed with the ingenue faces  
of pink and white impatiens  
and placed my grief  
in the mouth of language,  
the only thing that would grieve with me.