Beth Bachmann

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Beth Bachmann’s poems, “(why your room has a door),” “(ode),” and “energy” appear in our Spring 2012 issue, guest edited by Nick Flynn. “(why your room has a door)” opens with these lines:

It’s not the shore; it’s the ocean that opens. Devil, make a mountain

of me for the water to dwell     against. I become aware of my
methods, and the methods

changed me. Soldier, you make my body a map on the floor

Here, Bachmann discusses her inspiration for “(why your room has a door)”:

We pulled up to the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys in a big, red truck. I love it when proportions go crazy and this was one drink me and then the other, inside, among the dollhouses and the tiny things they hold: miniature boxes of cheer and joy and all and poison, ninety-nine bottles to kneel before, and one empty house we studied the way you do the last time before you move. What I hadn’t expected to find were the soldiers close enough for reentry. Back at the hotel, the tv encouraged freedom and privacy with the words, it’s why your room has a door, and I wondered, is it? Later, we played a game and there was my father’s name, my maiden, written out under half a body and the hangman’s noose.

I am fond of the soldier’s brute strength and vulnerability and of writing in a mode of female war lyrics, though Wilfred Owen remains my favorite poet of PTSD. Owen writes, “Always they must see these things and hear them;” Marina Tsvetaeva (via Ed Hirsch): “the wave always returns, and always returns as a different wave;” Muriel Rukeyser: “Women and poets see the truth arrive.”