Greeting ||| from Transom

Why hello, spaceship of light.
Hello glowing orb resplendent.
Hello sound marrowed through a soothsayer’s moon.
What does that even mean?
Hello cynicism.
Hello click of cicada wings against the fenders.
Hello face hung between us during lovemaking.
In greeting you each by name I acknowledge your presence
and show you that I am not afraid of you.
Hello my own death.
Hello bludgeoned dove.
Hello turquoise tooth.
Hello violence done to women.
Hello Alamo.
Hello flag-wrapped babies committing hari-kari.
Hello sweet movement of the hips and apple juice.
Hello God.
Hello ocean and book.
I will not forget you the way I have forgotten
the names countless streets on which I’ve lived.
Except for these: Thomas. Hemlock. Racine.
The way I have forgotten the backs of former lovers.
Except for these: the one with prominent ribs,
the one with torn and hardened muscles,
the one with moles growing in two vertical rows.
My fingers winding through the moles like clematis.
Hello moles I will never touch again.
Hello parts of my childhood I thought I forgot.
Hello independent clause.
Hello ghost town with symbolic tumbleweed.
Hello to the rooster and to the rooster’s tin likeness.
Hello sparrow and crumb.
Hello Emily Dickinson, there at the window, shielding the view of the rest of my life.
Hello hoop with no net. Hello empty ring.
Most babies learn good-bye before hello.
Hello departure.
Hello fingers flapping up and down at the crease of the wrist.
Hello: meaning to fetch.
Hello: especially when hailing a ferryman.
Hello: rather than ahoy when answering the telephone.
Hello: in masking my disgruntlement.
Hello: as the stepchild of hallo.
Hallo: as in there goeth the hart, let us progress toward the hart, our lithe sporty dogs
lapping upon the heels of the hart, our bows aimed at the heart of the hart.
Hello we said to her
when she had finished pressing her way out of me,
when she was slippery and wailing on my chest,
when no words sufficed but something had to be said.

Kaethe Schwehn is the author of Tailings: A Memoir and the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. Her poems and prose can be found in journals such as Crazyhorse, Pleiades, jubilat, Witness, Minnesota Review and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. Schwehn has been the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology award. She currently teaches creative writing at St. Olaf College and lives in Northfield, Minnesota with her husband and two children.


“Greeting” was originally featured in Transom Issue 2.