The nurses have left work. The pilots have left work. The blank blue caelum covers us, as the split pull of cloth. I’ve returned to a city of men with names scrawled in ink across the throat. Somewhere, you are hooked up to a machine. The monitor hides your face, becomes it, black frame and flickering glass. You sit at the head of the table in our sunroom. I reach across my mother and touch your arm. I kiss an area of the cold plastic where your cheek would be, and blood vessels prickle purple, below, at your neck. You are tilting your head—I swear. This is my dream. We drink tea. They paint the station walls white for us.
Oath Detailed into a Landscape with a Crow-Quill Pen
It’s as though I’ve put another voice into a cache of mango leaves in an animal’s stomach to starve out the urine that makes the lily yellow orbing a center ten times more blinding than the sun. After it was unhooked from a chain & after the hinge closed the two hemispheres, one man without a shirt who we would call a boy drove a vehicle carrying what looks like a balloon compressing the metal pit inside of it. How the pilots signed it like a cast and wrote their wishes on its charged curve, even the fins. In one argument about a figure stopped in time, a woman is rubbed into a silhouette— charcoal, corseted into her board of a torso. But this is a study for a painting. What about the ladder of a strap, the silk textile tattooed into the blood pattern running over her back? I have taken her, though she turned away, closing her eyes, thinking she gave her exposed self to a doctor instead of the blink it takes a lens to collect the light reflecting off her skin. Because of the crows fighting on the roof of my apartment in a city in the United States directly above my dumpster in the alley I’m promising this with an ink that has an idea of a crow in it— the way an idea of history is a diagram of a promise of a room where the windows keep shifting positions. Even these crows mark the tile with their black current feathers: above me, military jets cross the high clouds for air shows as they do once a year. Let the dew point be my witness that I do not know what this means: to look at things like prints of fruit crate art where there is a griffin guarding three oranges and decide why a griffin is guarding three oranges, its lion tail curled into an almost O. As the gray pipe of the security camera secured to the corner of the building is my witness, I will never be able to do anything else but give you a photo of your own shadow stretched out over the ground. The shadow is an airplane low over a road that converges with another road, splits two fields, then opens up to a town dotting a shoreline with peaked roofs. I only have a copy of this body diving over a line that extends to the sea, the city grainy as a silverpoint drawing—the oldest way to draw a pen across a surface-- putting metal to the page: glue mixed with ground bone.
The Muse Appears with a Moon Rock and a Tuning Fork
Me me me me. I’ve already written myself out the car door. I’d been driving through a night forest: pines, maples, anxious boxes of houses.
I called my father. I was lost. He said, turn around, and there I was, at the side of the road, the plants shaped like hands. Bon chance. Strange
I can talk to you like this. I meant to leave by Amtrak for New York with a red suitcase, the zippered cloth edged with leather
shutting inside my white breath: but I woke to ice erasing the sidewalk in a long smear. Sugar. My lungs rustle like Mylar balloons. See,
I’m myself, written awake, in socks, cross-legged on your bed, wondering about something...how I failed you because I lost you in celluloid
fields quiet with soldiers, in Dr. Zhivago. The sun will set, the clouds mottled with ink numbers of what we owe. So, rub my
table with a rag. I can’t talk to you like this, like I left you in Paris, where a painter is warming her hands over a bowl of boiled water.
-- Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre(Southern Illinois University Press, 2013), which won the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have received awards from the Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Third Coastand have appeared in AGNI, Best New Poets, e Antioch Review, Georgia Review, TriQuarterly Online, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Maryland (MFA, poetry), Tyler Mills is currently a PhD candidate in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois-Chicago.