Swan Song
          after Tyge Ingerslev’s Kolindsund 2011

 
Kolindsund 2011, by Tyge IngerslevWatercolor is a controlled bleed,
its borders edges feathered
in airy layers, brush, paint, paper,
and the complex mastery of water.

Gradations of gray frame
swan ghosts gliding twice-white,
each a note composed as the train
crosses flat land to Århus Station,

winter 1990, Kolind is all pond
glass out the window the smooth
idle a mute ease trumpeting water’s
return, reclaiming reclaimed fields.

Today the disappeared lake’s
striations line like sheet music
pressed on a schoolhouse shade
drawn past return, what’s dun

was water pumped and drained,
what’s left is bottomland too wet
to farm, rushes at the deckle edge
recall the refrain of lake and swan.

 

 

 

For Iben, Almost Forty

 
A breeze in the willow sweeps
new fronds over the birdhouse
with the Japanese license plate
for its tin roof. Each season
the chickadees consider and pass
its vacant eye. Seeing surrenders
to sound as a slip of wind spins
again the way a song yesterday
returns Iben still eighteen, her smile
as warm as a Danish bakery.
Hedgerows line Grenå streets,
the å eases the town’s length.
To speak the Danish for creek,
you open the mouth like the end
of echo, the hole in a house
with no door wedged in the center
of a tree, this place you keep for those
who might return if the right wind
plays in the hollow ache makes.

 

 

 

Gray with an A

 
Unpicked apples last the winter,
hangings and other ornamentals.
Leaves are a turn ahead, February
appears too soon for all this wool,
for those waiting to finish the two-
winter novel all war and no peace
except hummingbirds and bushtits
firing like the only ideas in this fog
and trapped smoke. Excuses say
exactly what you want to hear,
trust yourself to buffer the stillness,
lost faith makes a small mark, stays,
a dog outside a barbershop, follows
you home, this itch under the collar.
You miss a good storm, real dark
begs tomato soup and toasted cheese
sandwiches, everything your mother
believed requires a cumulonimbus sky.

 

 

 

Oh Brother

She cuts juice-glass circles
into baking powder biscuits,
each opens a disappeared moon
fit to slather in butter, dunk
in white beans with ham
Mom simmers as she folds
the spaces and flattens enough
for the last two wheels she lines
on the cookie sheet, and I fix
dough eyes popped clean
as a brother gone, me in his shirt,
his room mine. Out the window
the same laurel hedge he watched
alive with robins’ nests, black
branches twisted as thick as a fence
blocking the Paske’s yard, croquet
balls clacking, kids shouting Poison,
rat dog yapping, Old Man Paske,
who never knew me from my brother,
biting his pipe stem inhaling, launching
a single smoke ring as if he invented air.

 

 

 

Kevin Miller lives in Tacoma, Washington. Pleasure Boat Studio published his third collection Home & Away: The Old Town Poems in 2009. Blue Begonia Press published Everywhere Was Far and Light That Whispers Morning. Miller taught in the public schools of Washington for 39 years. He was a Fulbright teacher in Denmark in 1990.

Header photo of swan courtesy Pixabay.

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3 Responses

  1. Jim Bodeen

    I loved seeing these poems this morning, and hearing them read by the poet. What four poems: Oh brother. This makes my morning. Takes me out before the cumulonimbus sky–to language warm as a Danish bakery. What a way to slow my day down, restarting it. jim

  2. Nance Van Winckel

    Lovely poems by the wonderful Kevin Miller!

    • Dennis Held

      Kevin Miller just gets better and better as time moves along. “Excuses say exactly what you want to hear,” for example, is a surprising, truthful insight–one we may not want to hear, but which we must. His poems have always been clear and direct, and this new work carries the wisdom and grace of a mature poet at the peak of his powers. Thanks for publishing these inventive, and moving, acts of the imagination.

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