Notes on Staying


All my life I watched my mother contemplate an exit, hovering between a conversation & a doorway. Her sleep, medicated & rich. I imagine, in her dreams she is tall with laughter. I feel most like her son when I am lonely—a child again, dragged by her to a party I enjoyed, but then stopped enjoying. In our future, there are two cabs idling in the driveway, which is a cowardly way of saying, I cannot kill myself until my mother dies. If joy is what tethers us to this life then most days, my mother & I float above the pavement, tied together by the fraying threads of her nightgown. All my life I’ve bitten at the knots of my solitude. No one wants to be alive when they’re forgotten. When she is gone, who will call my name?


& I should mention hope, since hope is what disarms the bomb when the city clutches their children goodnight, the red wire blue wire optimism of my mother’s voice, when she says, ​I don’t need friends, just you & in me still a child refusing to accept the terms of her mercy & how many times have I been told you’ll understand when you’re older, or how many times have I heard, ​we’re all gonna die one day—boring hopelessness, clearing the table before we eat, which is fine. Who needs a last meal? Who needs a good reason to leave the party before things get weird? So maybe that’s hope. Maybe hope is stopping the story before it’s over, before the inevitable messy end. O monger of the broken records. O monger of the early birthday present. Push me from the highway overpass—let’s leave the story there, let’s leave the body whole in mid-air illuminated by oncoming headlights, a tiny song, a pixel in the pixelated mouth of hope, or whatever it is that propels us through the door of tomorrow & since there was no key, I guess I’ll swallow the door.

Two Poems by Anna Meister

“Poem for Walter’s Leaving, The Fields” & “I Breathe and It Is to be Applauded For”