Three Poems by Leslie Adrienne Miller

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Path in the Grass

Even though it goes nowhere, I choose it
each afternoon and march toward the fog
that lays its long thigh on the table
of cool steel where otherwise horizon

would unspool its increments of rule.
When the edges emerge, we can love that too,
but the path in the grass is best in mist
that lights the ravage of the margins.

You have to step down from the road
where the tangle comes up to brush
your elbows, and a flush of blues
fans all its cards at your feet, not blooms

but leaves the color of pillow mints
and blades that wrap your ankles
like snapped whips. Tiaras of wild
carrot blacken at the other end

and hush the little snakes that break
their blue links into stilled measures
when we find one flattened in the road.
Otherwise, we’d never bring

the icon of their gorgeous undersides
this far: how blue the tiny bead of brow
and inside their mouths. Like the bay itself,
alive, they drag their yellow chains

of light along too fast for human eyes
to register the quick, and like the bay too
their darker scales pour. This one,
named for the bit of lace a bride

will toss to hopeful boys in a pack,
died with an open jaw and seems
to us now a creature crying out,
but she, like us, was only hunting

a grassy path, the red tongue flicking
out for particles of air that might
tell her how far the water’s edge,
how near prey, danger, mate,

or this smear of blue annihilation
that might have married all three.




after Anselm Kiefer

Just so you know she isn’t closed
in ice, she’ll admit to great swathes
scratched thin with all manner

of high feeling, even, God forbid,
places where she’d chucked rocks
at it and scribbled bits

of his language, which,
truth be told, had the sexiest
words for what happens

when a body you’re done with
doesn’t die. In fact, beetles
climbed in and out of the hole,

and the carapaces shone
like wet ink so long, she couldn’t
remember the bones without them.

The legs and pincers were lace,
and tracks of rust tinged rivulets
ran down the backs of his calves.

She’d removed the head months
before, and mounted in its place
a cage or a pod or a crown of wire

depending on how much medication
was still in her system when she sat
down to make something of it.

The clothes, however, refused
to morph: they were what
they’d always been, ordinary

loafers and the awful plaid
with shoulder tabs, flimsy briefs
too synthetic to repurpose

as dust cloths or mirror wipes.
She knew others were better
at saving the scenes set with gifts

and photogenic meals while she’d
gone for patches of pavement
and filthy aftermath, dried stalks,

the lost code of cursive
on an envelope, and finally
the hard pill of a seed pried

from the dazzling vine
that refuses to take root
in her part of the world.



Navigator’s Triangle

We decide they were coyotes, those black
scrabbles that rocked like toy horses
as they passed through the portal
of moonlight on the bay’s exposed flats.

We needed all three of us to agree
as we stood in the scrub at the edge
of the trail’s smear between grass
and the sink of sedge. Moonlight

lets you see just enough to venture out
but not enough to venture all the way in,
and we were women passing a mug
of tea and pointing up at the red eye

of Saturn in the south, and Cygnus
laying its open wings on the pitch
directly overhead, but the chain
of living mammals was something else,

miles out on flats so thick with sludge
we knew a doglike creature might sink.
The bay held them aloft on a silver
bar, and they crossed one by one

like animations running through a strip
of fabricated light. We all thought at once
about the report we’d have to make,
and whether or not we could really confess

that what one eye had caught became
a truth for three. None of us are married,
so what we see always has a story
at risk of never arriving at conception’s

lucky door, and no, we did not count them
or hear an identifying cry. We
simply marked the loping silhouettes
that might end up awash

if they’re not perfectly attuned
to what time the tide rushes in.




Leslie Adrienne MillerLeslie Adrienne Miller is author of six collections of poems — Y, The Resurrection Trade, and Eat Quite Everything You See from Graywolf Press — and Yesterday Had a Man In It, Ungodliness, and Staying Up For Love from Carnegie Mellon University Press.  She teaches at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Header photo of moon over coastline by gustavmelin0, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Leslie Adrienne Miller by Heather Muller. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.