Leslie Adrienne Miller


You could love it even if it’s not
your own grief in a bonny basket

woven of equal parts clever and cute.
You could yes it and yes it, but only

from a distance so safe even its planet
is a Pointillist’s dream, every dot

of water and light a pooling metropolis
remote from the heat of your own vasty

sump and away. You can take
its code into the mouth of your ear,

fish it through alphabets and tags
until it fits the lock of lovely,

maybe even opens that ordinary
door behind which the long roots

of your own childhood braid themselves
with the tails of resident reptiles

and the lush manes of new mothers.
There is a schooled way to think about this,

as there is a schooled way to position
the frame, but what you are asked

to see just wants to be seen. You might
call it beautiful and still think of it

as accident, cause and effect being bound
by time and proximity’s sketchy map.

It’s made for everyone to whom this
did not or could not happen, and sent

in all directions, an armada of paper skiffs,
to deliver its consummate salty pang.



Bus to the Sea

There’s always a bus ready to get you
to the edge. It rides the seam
of pavement that parts a forest
for miles in which the only views
are fecund, moist, below the waist.
It empties as it nears the roar
of surf. Rags of wind catch
hair and scarves and paper bags
as the older women step back down
to earth, but there’s always one
who isn’t in a hurry to be home,
for whom the sea is just as beautiful
and difficult as any wounded thing--
the way it gathers all its blues
from far above itself, the way it pinks
and blazes as if struck. It’s possible
to descend the steps and land
in storms that were not forecast,
or walk awhile along the edge
before a wave forgets its space
and takes you to your knees.
Sometimes wraiths of fog run
skinny arms from sky to shingle,
and though you’ve skittered back
to where the furthest heaps of net
and stone entangle, wet and spent,
you find the darkened cloth
where you’ve been touched.
When you’ve had enough
and turn back to the dunes’ dry
hulks, you don’t know how time
and space conspired to leave you
lost, all the wooden walkways
of escape drifted with sand
that says this way, that way, but not
the way out, and anyway, the bus
that brought you here is parked
somewhere in town for the night,
and if you’re lucky now, the waters
settle and spread, and a slice
of moon might help you lift the sheet
back over your cooled thighs.



Leslie Adrienne Miller’s collections of poetry include 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. 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. lesliemillerpoet.com