Why We Tell Stories

Poem By Lisel Mueller

For Linda Foster


I
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

2
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

3
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

Comments about Why We Tell Stories

beautiful poem// enjoyable
A poem truly enchanting and at the same time enlightening as well. Thanks for sharing and congrats on your positioning. X
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 Expectations, desires, dreams. very fine poem. tony
How enchanting! It is a story itself, the story of mankind! A great poem of the day!
A piece from the real world of story telling by grandmas and grandpas. Such an awesome write. Enjoyed thoroughly. Congrats.


Rating Card

3,7 out of 5
29 total ratings

Other poems of MUELLER

Immortality

In Sleeping Beauty's castle
the clock strikes one hundred years
and the girl in the tower returns to the world.
So do the servants in the kitchen,

Monet Refuses The Operation

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.

Moon Fishing

When the moon was full they came to the water.
some with pitchforks, some with rakes,
some with sieves and ladles,
and one with a silver cup.

Blood Oranges

In 1936, a child
in Hitler's Germany,
what did I know about the war in Spain?
Andalusia was a tango

Alive Together

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard's woman