Rosemarie Waldrop was born in Germany in 1935 and only immigrated to the US in the 1950s. Apart from her work as a poet she is also a successful translator, novelist and editor. She married Keith Waldrop and they together began publishing the Burning Deck Magazine in the early 1960s.
Paul Hoover chose a section of “Inserting the Mirror” from her 1987 work Reproduction of Profiles. It is a prose poem which responds to and works with the philosophical texts of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Excerpts of the text can be found on the How2 website here: http://www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/how2journal/archive/print_archive/rwinserting.html
You can also find a few of her poems on the Poetry Foundation website, together with the usual profile: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/rosmarie-waldrop
I personally love her newest collection, Driven to Abstraction which was published by New Directions in 2010.
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Wiping the mirror
After Rosmarie Waldrop
To explore the nature of the city I press my face to the steamy window pane and try to listen past the beats from the headphones of the girl ahead of me. In a misty city it is hard to hold on to anything. Every object fades as soon as your eyes focus. And then again some things never seem to fade - like the roar of the bus in the early morning, the heavy smell of fermentation or the silent rain. The pokes of umbrella ribs into your temples make philosophy a burden. I should know, I live with it every day.
We live in separate rooms but I wake up in his arms continually. Sometimes I dream of him at night. But in the morning my dreams are pushed inside by his hard reality. They quiver in his forceful grip and trickle syrupy into my steaming cup. He rolls up my mat while I am liquid, slowly slipping down the shower drain.
The beggar’s paper cup is filled with rain water. The coins fall into a wishing well. The ground-proximate means to keep a distance from the stars, to stay in orbit. No one ever considers the faces printed on bank notes these days. As if faces fade in the face of capitalism and anarchists wear balaclavas anyway.
I tried to understand the concept of patriotism by reading the Wikipedia entry on every country I could think of. Uruguay legalised gay marriage and marihuana last year. I was struck by the peculiar patterns of chaos across the planet. I remained motionless staring past the display but when I turned to face the world the connection had gone.
Down the deserted streets, wading through rivers, I wash way into New York City alleyways. The shadows of all those before me falling heavy on my chest. As I inhale my words are soaking. In my lungs tiny drops of water gathering.