Corey Mesler – Two Poems – 2

Train, Mountain

by Corey Mesler

I rode the train into the mountain
and inside the mountain it
was too dark to write this
so afterward I lost the
train and the words that resounded
so beautifully inside the mountain. 

My Mother is Dying

by Corey Mesler

In a bedroom in my sister’s house
my mother lies dying. All
94 of her years have accordioned
into this wee, shrimp-like shape, 
curled like a question mark. I want
to ask her so much. All my
life she’s been sweet and difficult,
her own depression hidden
save when it came out as anger. 
Now she has embraced her own
existence and found it beautiful. 
“We had a good life,” she tells me in
what must be one of our last con-
versations. I wanted to say I wish
you’d told me that as a child because,
honestly, I did not know. But
I cannot address this. Her late-life
generosity is like a screen behind
which she now dresses in wings
and I am caught unawares, again. 
Life, a good one or a bad one, is
what I want to celebrate, daily. 
But I don’t. Because I have her in-
side me, the you-suck voice, the
self-hatred. Mom, I loved you with
all my heart when I was a boy. 
You were my everything. Now, 
as I contemplate being without you, 
I return to that boy who sat as 
close to you as possible, on the
couch in the paneled den, where he 
went for succor and protection
from the fears that would only 
fester and grow as he did. I am that
boy again and, as if in a fairy tale,
you are that mother again, the 
one who let me fawn and beseech, the
one who let me imagine her everything. 

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published nine novels, four short story collections, six full-length poetry collections, and a dozen chapbooks. His novel, Memphis Movie, attracted kind words from Ann Beattie, Peter Coyote, and William Hjorstberg, among others. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and three of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On, which won The Memphis Film Prize in 2017. With his wife, he runs a 144 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at