Three poems by Jane C. Miller
If James Wright Came Back, What I Would Say
Let poems fly willing as sonar
to the cave of you.
Let them nest in pockets you didn’t know
how to fill.
Forget for a while, your friend
face-down in the tide, spine to the sun
like a toppled crucifix.
and feel the stars sift silken as flour.
Relax your clouded look.
Let dreams milkweed in, their nectar
a haven for bounty and bees.
Forget the hooded one needle-slumped
who became a corner tragedy.
And what of the owl-eyed girl, her fierceness
a kohl-rimmed smear, her thin frame a hanger
for rent? Where night is a backyard tent,
make a flashlight of poems. Sing her
the O of wood, sky piped with birds,
prairie grass a windy susurration—
gone for a moment, the traffic’s jerk and cough,
the ravenous sway of barter and john.
Let no wounds or war,
bottle or threats palsy the hours.
Walk into the world you left.
Let your words make diamonds of rivets.
“Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” Keats
River where fish
go to live,
is full of cursive.
Where eddies mark
river flows a bone yard
to blocks and weights
to sinkers. Children, learn
to read the currents.
Ones who came before
signed this place with an x.
All Hospital Clocks are Silent
At the vigil of someone you love, you cannot fuss
at sheets. Cannot blanket her feet always cold.
Cannot watch the IV bag lose its life,
drip by drip, the ventilator
work her lungs.
You can drink coffee. Wait by the phone,
but you cannot be
the last hand to touch her she knows,
for her dying is remote.
Gurneys you cannot hear trundle the halls.
Vow yourself a shrine where she kissed you.
Pray the virus is not in you.
Make room for tendered sympathy, flowers.
Jane C. Miller’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She won first prize in the 11th annual Naugatuck River Review narrative poetry contest. Two poems were recognized as honorable mention and finalist in the 2020 Sandy Crimmins Prize. The National Federation of Press Women recently awarded Miller first prize for a single poem and 2nd prize for the poetry book, Walking the Sunken Boards (Pond Road Press, 2019), of which she is a co-author. She writes to avoid housecleaning and exercise, but is a decent cook.