If I wandered long enough in the desert maybe I could be clean again like an astronaut in training or the sands of the moon. If I could open the doors to my heart and give it full control, sleepless driver with stents in its pipes, a lump in my throat, my luxurious soul that keeps its eyes open and has no fear of the gray ashen sky and smoky air which is why I ask you this morning, my dear, are you going to the store all alone? With only your busted lip for a shield, the dusty cornet and old marathon shoes, the dried-up wreath of purple magnolia brought down from the attic with dark stiffened leaves the color of death, whose shadow arrived on delicate feet like the man at the food bank, who took delivery without a word of the five cases of liquid meals-- and knew why my brother could no longer use them-- or like your late poems whose lines would run over, then partway across, hanging down-- sentences full of proverbs and mercury-- in a voice which you would sometimes tell us belongs to someone who knows you quite well and is not exactly your own.
Joseph Millar is poetry faculty at North Carolina State’s MFA Program and also at Pacific University’s low residency MFA. His Dark Harvest: New and Selected Poems is due out in Fall of 2021 from Carnegie Mellon.