LESLIE ADRIENNE MILLER

 

COVE

Luxury can see water and sky from table,

bed and chair, but owns only quiet,

the shrug when the storm crosses to land,

and all the cell towers drain. That glow

in the distance is neither capital nor casino,

 

but hurtling particles of plasma,

and freighters pass so far south

even a rare clarity cannot capture

them again. Hulking campers hiss

on the rim road, but even they thin,

 

drag their carapaces out of fog

to hook up for night. Luxury owns

nothing at all, not even the vehicle

that brought her this far, delivered

her liberty to enter and leave, lots

 

and trails someone else maintains.

Gulley and gutter, septic and deck rot

breached eave, or the rain slicked step

that takes down a harried woman

outside the diner’s door: none of these

 

ruin her view of the lake’s mercurial face.

She’s so many blessed seats away

from that wet matron who whimpers

and bends beneath a moose mount to mop

her gash with napkins from the salad bar.

 

Luxury’s only child is grown and gone,

her lovers and husbands handed off

to others to dab and cosset, feed

and bury. She begins where the damp

bandage of all that aims to manage

 

is unwound, then all that wants managing.

Even that last oily tower of muscled promise,

is paid back to rot and weather’s mastering

hand. She’s come so far north now she knows

the answer to all questions is: acquire

 

nothing, let the scraped flesh dry.

So what if a rosy glow seeps beneath

the scab and threatens familiar bloom,

frilled and fragrant and slightly fraught,

a touch of the once adored tipped

 

back into its splay. Cutting him out

of the picture now would be work, 

shackle and drag. Let time lap it.

Let the dross cling to the shore,

and need freeze in the deep.

 

Leslie Adrienne Miller is the author of six poetry collections, including Y (Graywolf Press), The Resurrection Trade, Eat Quite Everything You See, Yesterday Had a Man In It (Carnegie Mellon University Press), Ungodliness, and Staying Up For Love. Miller’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, and Crazyhorse. Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas, she holds degrees in creative writing and literature from Stephens College, University of Missouri, Iowa Writers Workshop, and University of Houston.

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