Poetry: Meg Hamill



I have been longing for so long, for you.
I have been up at night in front of so many windows pacing
and fretting that I might never find you.
I am not proud that I have spent so many hours swimming in you
and still for years I paced the windows and the full moons
were rising up behind the cities and the ghettos and the hills,
and even though you were in all of these places
just as much as this place, still, I couldn’t find you.


It was difficult to find you.
I didn’t even know I was looking for you.
All of a sudden we were walking along the Petaluma River
and the boats were clanking
and the masts on the boats were just as alive with you
as the stories pouring out of you.
All of a sudden you carried a tulip into my apartment in the ghetto.
All of a sudden I can’t leave the apartment or I trip over you.


These days the hardest thing for me to remember,
is that I was born to be hogging all the bed
when you come in
in the quietest hours of the night
to slip in beside me,
born to be listening to the wind outside
creaking through the trees and creaking
through the boards in my house,
born to be moaning about something
inconsequential as you nestle in…

Just like I was born to be sitting here at the table
in the early morning, wrapped in this blanket,
looking out upon this stunted garden,
this mess in the yard, fiddling around with these words,
tending to this pain in the temples,
tending to this vacuum of a feeling called
“I don’t know why I am here.”


In 1929 Hubble looked out and saw that in every direction he looked
every galaxy was moving away from himself.
And the galaxies that were furthest away from himself were rushing away at great speeds.
The ones that were closer were still moving away but more slowly.

This is inconceivable from here at this desk in the morning
so early it is black silhouettes in front of the deepest blue,
that every purple thistle is thrusting out, every Lamborghini.
Every vast ocean is stretching out further away
from every buoyed person who is looking out into the vastness from the shore.

The space between me and the sun coming up is becoming a bigger space.
The distance between myself and you,
you with your strange tendency to peck and then bore into my silences
like a bird on a tree looking for bugs,
you with a seemingly endless ability to crack open the hard shell of me,
you magician with a hurting past,
the distance between us is getting stretched out
though I don’t really understand how this could be true.

What I know is that it still hurts to speak the honest truth.
There is still that age-old lump in the throat, in the space between
one exploding star and one galaxy that is just being born.
I call it my throat but it could be anywhere.
It feels like a beaver dam inside the throat
housing something warm with large and biting teeth.

I can see now that it hurts to stretch out.
Imagine a belly getting pregnant.
Young bones getting bigger.

Because we don’t know where else to start
it is said that in the “beginning”
100 billion galaxies were squished into a space the size of an
atomic nucleus.
It was tight in there
and the beginning of everything was there.
Penguins and oak trees were there.
People and marine mammals were there.
It was so constricted.
It was so dense.
It was so heavy, breathing was not a thing yet.
Swimming and singing were not yet things.

This is the first poem I have written in a long time.
I think I am writing it because I have a pile of bills to pay
that is probably the biggest pile of bills I have ever had to pay
and the plumbing in our house is very old and it requires constant attention
and I have been sick with something that was half flu
and half a part of me that was ready to die,
that snuffed itself out eventually with a fierce headache
and convulsions in the bed
and you stroking my temples with such grace
that that sick part was able to float itself away.

In other words the work that is required
to be a part of this immense expanding space
sometimes comes to me with a tidy blindfold
that fits over my eyes in a perfect darkness
leaving small slits through which I can see just enough
to cook meals and put my clothes on and get my work done for the day
but those slits aren’t big enough for poems.

And so here we all are.
We are no longer squished together in a small space the size of an atomic nucleus.
There is air around us that smells of wet redwood and azaleas.
There are galaxies blooming and withering as if following a season.
There is dark matter. There are salmon rushing up a creek.
There are human beings feeling the pain of this constant expansion
the pain of constricting against it
and the pain of giving in to it
holding each other and killing each other
There is the sky that is so light now that it could hardly be called blue
further away from me than it was last night though I have no idea how this could be true


In my clearest moments I see myself as a series of light switches that are being flicked on, moving around in a space filled with light switches that keep flicking on. I see ancestral patterns like trails of pale light that follow me around the house. I see the fear that has collected in me as a glowing thing that pulsates.

When I unclench my fists a light turns on. As they begin to clench again a light turns on.
You rub your body against me and a light turns on. I put my blinders on. I move about the house bumping into things and breaking things but even as I am bumbling around a light turns on. I am surrounded by hollow bulbs that keep blinking on and on.

That one illuminates fear and one illuminates my heart cracking open is inconsequential. Everything is becoming lit.

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