The Letting Go
by M.L. Liebler

Little by little
It starts.  In Siberia,
I see a reflection—
Myself standing still
In the afternoon shadow
Of ancient Russia.
I know now what
I have never realized
Before.  I am alone

In darkness—a shade
Of myself here
On another cold
Siberian sidewalk,
So many miles away
From Moscow,
And even further
From myself.  Still,

I find songs in this
Old world, as I gather
My ragged spirit in mid-
May and struggle
To dance away from what is
Hidden in snow beyond
This here and now.

by M.L. Liebler

The broken sun’s
Light slides slowly through
The window of this apartment
On Charlottenstrasse.  I see
The ghosts of my family
Coming down from
The hills above Stuttgart.

It seems like clouds gathering
Above, but when I look again, it is
My Grandmother filled with love,
The one who raised me from birth,
And to her right my grandpa
Greeting me on the streets of Baden-Württemberg.

Is this where they all have gone?
Back to the homeland.  This is
Our old neighborhood.  Germany
Is the broken heart I have
Never forgotten.  The origin
Of who I am.  I have come
Home to my beginnings,
And my family has waited
For my return from an America
That I never really knew.


M.L. Liebler is the author of several books of poetry including
Written In Rain: New & Selected (2000), which was the 2001
finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize and winner of The 2001
Wayne State University Board of Governors’ Award, and
Moon A Box
(New Issues Press, 2004), which received The 2005
Paterson Poetry Award of Excellence.  His forthcoming books are
Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream (Wayne State University
Press) and
Working Words: An Anthology of Labor, Art &
(Coffeehouse Press).  In 2005, he was named The
First Poet Laureate of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (his hometown),
and he is the Founding Director of The Writer’s Voice Project and
the recent Metro Detroit Writers Literary Organization.  Liebler has
taught English, Creative Writing, World Literature, American
Studies, and Labor Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit
since 1980.

On “The Letting Go”:   
In 2004 and 2005, I visited Russia and spent several weeks each
time in the city of Novosibirsk, located in the center of Siberia.  
It is the halfway mark on the Trans-Siberian train between
Moscow and Vladivostok.  I offered many readings and lectures
at The University of Novosibirsk and in the city itself during my
stay.  While living and teaching there, it dawned on me that I
was very far away from home in the mysterious former Soviet
Union that I had been taught to fear during my early years in
Cold War America.  After watching and contemplating the people
walking past me on the streets and observing the crumbling
infrastructure of the buildings and landscape, I wrote “The
Letting Go.”  While I was indeed a stranger in a strange land, I
started to understand myself better than ever before.  “The
Letting Go” is the first poem in the Russia section of my new
Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream, that features
poems written in Russia, Germany, and Israel.

On “From the Gathering Hills of Stuttgart”:  
“From the Gathering Hills of Stuttgart” is a poem that was
written after I had a major moment of awareness about my
German heritage and upbringing in Detroit.  After visiting
Germany many times between 2002 and 2006, I started to think
about and explore my German roots.  I had never thought about
this before.  I discovered that there were many Lieblers in the
Stuttgart area.  While I have traveled Germany from north to
south several times, I always found myself feeling uniquely at
home in the beautiful city of Stuttgart.  I thought it was
interesting how Stuttgart and Detroit are sister automobile-
producing cities, and how I was raised in an auto factory worker
family in Motown.  It was natural for me to be at home in the
world there.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
From the Gathering Hills of