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Silhouette of man on horseback at sunset

Four Poems by Stacy Boe Miller

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For Cousins

This is Mark on the front porch with a gun
in his mouth. The wind cold and heavy. A meadowlark
is singing. Maybe Mark is singing Peace Be Still, might think
for a second of his brother when he sang

the same in front of church, off key.
This is Mark’s brother checking cattle in a pasture
nearby, heat from the horse beneath
him steaming the winter air. He doesn’t
look up when he hears the shot. It’s Wyoming after all. This

is the moment right before knowing. Let’s lay
it on the table, fold back the corners, smooth any wrinkles:
A young man turns his horse toward home, the only sound,

hooves on dirt, and maybe Sandhill cranes like we saw
that summer, their legs going on so long beneath them. Or maybe
the sky is empty—there’s not a bird for miles.

 

 

Mother, Any Given Day

Across two cattle guards,
past the curve of the sewer pond,
my mother puts chains on the tires
of our pickup, burns garbage
in a metal trash can, sings Nothing
but the Blood of Jesus, plays the keys
of the upright. The notes rise

from her fingers like cactus spines
in the pasture I roam. She watches
me through the window as she sews
our Easter dresses, thinks of the children
God took home. She knows as well
as that prickly pear how our bodies are
hidden waters. Sometimes she laughs

so hard she cries and we tease her,
but even in my smallness
I know it’s a soft rare bloom.
Sometimes she closes

the bathroom door and keeps the crying
quiet. With winter approaching

succulents die back to their unseen
things—roots below ground,
bulbs that could never last
in this wide open.

 

 

When I Say Memory

I mean apples
that fell every
fall into our rusted
small yard, and the worms
living inside
all that sweetness. 

I mean the deer
the apples would bring leaping
our high fence of faded morning
glories. I mean the buck

that slept there midday
just outside my window
so my small son couldn’t
dig in his sandbox. 

I mean the worms 
were in the apples and
the apples in the buck and
the buck in my yard. I mean me
watching my son
watching—all the years

to come tunneling inside
him like a kind of sweetness.
And this now, only
in us, not even in the buck,
who I’m sure is just antlers 
and bones, if that.

 

 

Miscarriage

Was wolves
took the baby
into the throat of
the woods. She’ll be cold

sometimes, but she won’t know
the shame of her body. You may
see her years from now, among

the cedars. Isn’t it beautiful
how she doesn’t cover herself
with her hands? You’ll look

out the window and imagine
her teeth—sharp
enough for flesh, blackening

feet below her ankles. You’ll dream her
hair filled with branches.
It could make you

jealous, all the tangle
and wild. You’ll stand in the yard
some nights, try to
trade your voice for howl.

 

 

 

Stacy Boe MillerStacy Boe Miller is a writer living in northern Idaho. Some of her work can be found in Copper Nickel, River Teeth’s Beautiful Things, Northwest Review, and other journals. She is a reader for Fugue Literary Journal and serves on the board of High Desert Journal

Header photo by outdoorsman, courtesy Shutterstock.

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