Liz Mehl

Liz Mehl lives in Portland, Oregon, and is well-versed in the nomenclature of rain. She is the cofounder of Poetry Press Week, a biannual event that brings poets, along with their new and unpublished work, before an audience of press, publishers and agents.

Observation Car

Do you orient yourself so as to see what’s coming,
or what has just gone by? Do your cows angle
forward in backward pastures; is there spinback
on your trees?

The east-streaking rain on the observation car
window as we careen out of Montana
is telling. We all travel how we must:
facing, not facing.

This is the best of my present
abilities. The five days packing for a four
day trip. Pill by pill,
shirt by possible shirt.

My mind is not what it was,
because it is becoming.

The Columbia opens suddenly to the north
and south, encircling us. I wasn’t wrong
after all, to expect a river on both sides.

Mount Hood’s summit emerges,
a great white fin,
whose body below reorients
the wondering, and the wandering.
Isn’t it good, I say mostly to myself,
that we’ll all arrive together,
no matter where our minds go
in between.

photo by:

Chen’s Good Taste

I want to go back where I was always evenly drunk
in the ether of the womb, corded
like a cosmonaut to the ship of a body,
never growing hungry, or cold.

Instead, tonight I’m at Chen’s Good Taste
Restaurant ordering wontons over noodles
for one.

That is all? asks the tall server,
bending over me like a dove tree transplanted.
Yes, that is all, I answer. Because shouldn’t that be
plenty for one whose belly is empty and always
will be. And shouldn’t I be sitting alone,
who’s grown tired of reaching, of the effort
to ask and always be asking, would you care
to share a table with me?
Now to drink my watery
tea as I stare out the window at the sky over
Fourth Street, beneath which the owner chops chicken
to pieces, backlit. His head is as heavy
as mine.

And now I want chili, and Sriracha,
and a family, and the boy
who answers in English when his father
speaks in Chinese and I want
to eat the men seated next to me, and the table
and red chairs, too.

And where is my tether,
and where is my mother.
Maybe I should have ordered
the Beef Chow Fun. Or maybe
it’s that after birth
we can never really be full again.