parallax background


April 9, 2019
April 11, 2019

For the Mothers of Berlin: Winter 2012.


(I have fallen in love)

with the hollowing out —

of sound disappearing into

the vacuum of

a subway tunnel.

Where I’m left on the platform

so I become keenly aware

of tinnitus;

of the slow-growing of

a cancerous mole; the inhale and

exhale of

a menthol waiting for the subway;

of the sound when the doors close;

of crawling back

in a voicemail recording.

(Two years ago you sounded different

/hey Kim —

give me a call when you get this/.)

I can replay this moment

of thoughtfulness and

the tenderness in your voice

and I do — I let it

fill the space from ear-to-ear

I hear it and

the rattling around of it

in there distinctly.

(I won’t tell you about this part.)


I am on the train between

a man reading a book about tunnels

and a woman who could be his mother

watching the city slide beneath her.

There are small holes opening up

in the old vinyl bench seats;

(what is that place? —

where sound hits a barrier; where

something breaks) there is only

the all-consuming

gnashing of metal.

She is looking for

some imperceptible shift

in gravity

to tell her

she can die happy:

her boy has grown into a man

who reads books

on the 5 o’clock train

from the city

to the suburbs,

a sort of refrain of childhood.

There are voices out there

at night where she closes her eyes

curled up next to the pillow

that still belongs to

her husband who died last June —

the sound of sirens and loss

spoken aloud.

This is not exactly death-do-us-part

(though this, too, the punctuation

I have already planned).


2012: the winter I feared

I would share a rail car

with a man in a suicide vest.

I learned I didn’t know

how to pray

for myself or

for humanity

for mothers raising sons,

(this is the great imprecision of fear).

What our world is becoming:

one in which I am waiting

for any abnormal sound

for the rush of reaction leaving

lungs to be swallowed up

because it is too much sound

to be distinct to the ear.


At home.

There are mothers gathering

wash folded freshly into baskets

for their sons and husbands on trains.

They are singing

old folk songs

with automatic words

that roll off the tongue

down into manholes

where they meet the subway doors.




















Berlin, Unemployed: 2014.


I wake up my body.

This morning the sun

draws ringlet bands

on each silver strand of

your hair.

I resist the temptation:

to take just one

as a template

for a painting of you.

I dress in layers and run twelve miles.

I insist on miles for this personal ritual

a measurement no one here

has learned

precisely to understand.

I return home to the window and make tea.

It is soundproof but

the sun is warm; a young woman is

rolling a stroller along the cobblestone walk

crusted with dirtying ice left over from


and the fur lining the hood of

her jacket softly rustles the spot

behind her ears

that always reeks of

the particularly human


of the body.

I spend some hours

handcutting intricately designed

greetings for people I love.

This is art now.

I hear you coming up the stairs

and shuffle everything away.

Our apartment is the hollow

homely flesh of a butternut squash

and we’re holding spoons scraping away

at the walls when I ask you

how your day was.

There is nothing remarkable to report

(this should comfort me).

The next morning I pull on the sweater

you gave me

that itches but looks gentlemanly.

I feel

like I could become something here.

And the shoes I wore the day

we were married.

I enter a building whose structure

alone is so white I think

I will need to be more

and because I am no longer at home

this is a test of my very substance.

I am seated across from another man

who knows how to cross his legs

in such a way

as to identify me. Everything I do

is a deliberate translation and

I think about it too much

trying to explain what

art is and

what I am

doing here.

I spend some time after this encounter

on the train on the way to the market —

replaying this, though I do not cry because

I have tripped over words

I have only recently learned

out of context.

You and I carry

one another’s burdens;

but I fear I am becoming heavier


I run an extra mile the next day

to feel the sweat

roll down

the back of my ear

in a way that feels familiar like

a lullaby:

miss your mother,

go on,

miss her.

Though this probably will not help.

At the market, I buy fruit

I do not recognize

by its name, nor by any other.

I learn them, and this is my greatest joy.

I hear you coming up the stairs.

How was your day? — I ask,

though it is unremarkable.

I introduce you to words

in your own language

and your kiss makes me feel

like a hollowed-out fruit.

You may call me whatever you want.




KLW (Kimberly Lynn Wegel) is a poet living in Roanoke, Virginia. A graduate of Haverford College with a Bachelor’s degree in History of Art & German Literature, her interest in post-war German art and reconstruction influenced her own poetic style. KLW’s poems are raw scratches from her past lives that explore the limits of memory and the capacity of language to contain or describe, that question love’s affinity to trauma. KLW thinks of poetry as a tactile and synesthetic experience, of words as material, tangible and moveable: thus, she prefers that her poems be appreciated in print, rather than read aloud.