A Parallel Uni-Verse
First time fingerprinted at the border,
I felt robbed of something
inalienable ––
not only my skin’s lines
but a kind of innocence.

Waiting, cued among travelers,
I came tired, time-blurred between continents:
the officer had me place my fingers.
Here. Now this one.

And no going back,
no refusal, second thought ––
in the crowded hall of faces
he presided over the secret codes.
My chest hurt: but this is home.
Twenty-eight years in
confidence — and no trust?

Next year’s re-entry into US:
green card, purpose of my travel?
And –– again –– five fingers.
Then I understand: from now on
I will be more alien, more migrant,

more estranged. Every time I cross
your border, I work a little harder
to let you take my hand.


Leonore Hildebrandt of Harrington, Maine, grew up in Germany. She is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and a member of the Flat Bay artists collective. Her new collection is The Next Unknown.
Among US
By Leonore Hildebrandt
Lodged within rhythms of flight and rest,
the minor bird carries its home.

The nest is long gone --
buried under the snow pack, melted
into spring rains ...

Some say, home is a dot on the map,
and nesting a crowded affair one better forgets:
“It’s confinement, tradition,
a suitable place for breaking the shell.”

Look closer, and the nest is an ocean,
the curvature of the planet.
A multitude.

Some do return. Perhaps the new king,
preening his feathers, is making amends:
Welcome back! Eat and drink!
Minor bird wonders what strongman
bestows and withholds such gifts.

During migration’s long hours
the ground’s contours seem to flatten.
So many who left! So many arrive!
Their eyes are accustomed to waiting.

Minor bird sings in a lost key:
“My first home high in the wind
held on to me and I swayed there
under a dome of light ...”


Leonore Hildebrandt of Harrington, Maine, grew up in Germany. She is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and a member of the Flat Bay artists collective. Her recent chapbook is The Work at Hand.
Away
By Leonore Hildebrandt
They all adore and fear the little opportunist
who has heard and seen everything but

never said a word, who excels at both
the charming entry, the quiet exit.

He likes to make the rich look scanty.
Feasts in pastel –– swept up in the mansion’s

decor and burlesque, the girls’ transparencies.
Eventually something brings him down: a war,

depression, syphilis, the People’s Front . . .
but prior to being taken, he plasters up

the mansion’s walls with foreign bills ––
a tribute to the self-made man!

The girls run off without their giggles ––
the media barely catch their sweet behinds.


Leonore Hildebrandt of Harrington, Maine, grew up in Germany. She is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and a member of the Flat Bay artists collective. Her new collection is The Next Unknown.
Last Hurray
By Leonore Hildebrandt
Here on the northern fringe, we welcome
warming trends. All summer we go basking in the nude,
happily reconciled, the wild-wood shores
a picture of harmonious play––reflective cloudscapes,
and the light so sweet––a mystery.
New kinds of birds are flocking to the islands—
along with new diseases, to be fair—
we watch and count. We listen
to migrations in the dead of night,
more likely to be avid than perturbed,
but now and then I train the lenses on the water
lapping at my doorstep.

Calamity can make us more vigorous,
alert, and compassionate. Or so they say.
Somewhere else the silvered fish,
who may not sin at all, are writhing
in the bright-bloodied water,
their fins cut off by men, for other men––
a heart-shock sure to prompt a moral outcry.
But eyes can easily be fooled. And acrid smells
may rise too slowly to be noticed––
the fish go belly-up, the bee hives slump,
and further complications rise, like water,
lapping at my doorstep.

If I were rich, I’d build a wall
around my place. Or move
up to the high-ground, the windy barrens,
good for flying kites. Summer is over,
and I wear boots day in day out.
I find myself staring at the roof line of my house.
On Sundays I try to make headway
with new techniques for relaxation.
It rains and rains. I’m reciting foreign prayers––
gibberish, my fears, much
like the swish of water
lapping at my doorstep.


Leonore Hildebrandt of Harrington, Maine, grew up in Germany. She is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and a member of the Flat Bay artists collective. Her new collection is The Next Unknown.
Three Waves
By Leonore Hildebrandt