Margarethe Trakl, 1892-1917
There’s a kind of clarity in writing to you, in inhabiting that reality from these 21st century rooms. I’m drawn to this unattainability. I imagine you in every poem: stiff dress, fair skin, pouch kept filled with powders. You become my charm, my unluck, the only path through. I know how to love impossibility, to clutch what’s ephemeral, fleeting, how to not let go. Suffering in an act we've perfected. To be wrecked by anything we touch. Selfishly I live inside you, take up residence in your hands until words appear on the page. Here I can finally say that. And what could I do but write? My imperfect reverence. I invent the rooms you lived in, fill them with trinkets, the clothes you might have worn. I might never know your eye color. The cut of your favorite dress. The last sonata you played. Forgive me when I get it wrong. Perhaps this is your greatest trick: convincing me to write your story. Finally creating a world you could own. Wise Grete, always already in my bones.
Caitlin Bailey served as Water~Stone Review’s 2012 Assistant Poetry Editor. Her work has previously appeared in or is forthcoming from Bateau, Paper Darts, Lumina, Poetry City, USA, Vol. 2, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has three excellent poems in HFR52.