The Poetic Hill – November 2017


Poet Danielle Van Meter is an American citizen, born and bred in South Africa, “where the grass grows wild” and where her husband was raised. She is a freelance writer who says that she is “constantly scribbling away on laptops, the backs of her hands, and airplane drink napkins.” The poem below is one she performed at the Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s open-mic event in May.

nocivis principes

I should have known when you said
you dreamt of me.
I should have run.
No true gentleman ever admits to
seeing other women in his sleep.
I should have known when I found my name
carved in sleeping pills
Scattered across your bedroom.
My name-
Which my father gave to me,
The first thing I have ever owned,
My name-
Better in my own handwriting.

I watched you meet me
the way an architect meets an abandoned warehouse,
I watched you study my face like a pre-examination art student
who only knows one dimension-
I have carried this body across oceans.
These hands are the only ones I know
to point me in the right direction,
These legs are the only things I trust
to find my way home.
You do not get to sketch it down for later
and build whoever you want inside of her-
This? This is your ideal woman?
I have broken so many bones trying to fit inside of her-
Sure. Maybe she doesn’t cry for the family she has left behind,
But does she sing to the stars when she is alone at night?
Does she pray for the children she has not yet borne?
Has she ever written you a poem?

Your mother said she used to find you
playing with tools in the front yard-
Maybe you are still mistaking gardens for construction sites,
Maybe you are perpetually early
Maybe you are afraid of the word bloom.

Maybe it was my fault.
Did I wear my soul too much like a vacancy sign?
Did I allow my contentment to
look too much like apathy? Entrophy?
So I am sending it all back.
I am returning these heavy virtues you have
given to me, along with a poem detailing why.

It has been difficult watching you love another woman
When you call the other woman


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