State of the Arts Blog

Minnesota Poetry: Anna George Meek’s “Muscle Memory”

Anna George Meek has published her poetry in numerous national reviews. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poetry Prize, two Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Grant, and has also been a finalist for the National Poetry Series (twice), the Minnesota Book Award, and the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Her first book, Acts of Contortion, won the 2002 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and was published by Wisconsin University Press. Meek lives with her husband and daughter in Minneapolis where she works as a freelance musician and as a professor of English.

Meek will read her poetry this Friday along with poet Richard Terrill at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley. Here's one of her newer works.


My husband is bathing our baby

in the clawfoot tub. She rides its pleasures;

the porcelain ocean swirls and slaps.

Not water alone, uterine longing, such glistening

muscle; in my daughter, a nautilus

where her mind lives. Its chambers open

deep, each quiet curl of her neurons. Her body

rocks and leans into the silver underworld.

From the next room, I watch her

as I play the violin; its music wanders

the hall, the bath, where my daughter

doesn't realize she listens. I study

the curious ventriloquism of my hands.

Their fingers strike down like diving birds.

No longer able to speak, my father listens

to the music, eyes closed, and swaying.

Under his lashes, tears brim. He cannot remember

my name from my daughter's, yet always,

when he embraces me, his hands fall just so

between my shoulder blades.

I can hear my father's breath lifting and falling;

hear the pads of my husband's fingers

massaging the baby's skull. One day her body

will remember his hands, just so, and who I may be,

no matter. For a moment,

I lift the bow from the strings; sound

dissipates; rosin atoms spin away in clouds as they will.

- "Muscle Memory" by Anna George Meek. Reprinted here with permission from the author.