by Hari Levin Millan
This was before the cockle head’s shadow
crept across my shelf. Soft, the sheets I lay on.
Naked I lay amid a mecca of bird choirs,
“chway” “clee-ip” “cleeer,”
before X-ACTO knife cuts dragged
across canvases and stinging hot liquid
spilled onto my thighs, chiggers bore into my skin,
the eggs they deposited, the larvae.
And if life seeps through like dirt under a fingernail,
hammers me back into place—
telltale the nails—and succeeds in retrieving me,
every morning I brew coffee, the sound
of the pot percolating will roar like thunder
and the house shake to its foundation
while the coffee drips into the pot.
Every morning the same teaspoons spread out
on linen like a faceless corpse.
All that Spanish moss clinging to the living
vine — shoeless and naked from the waist down.
Hari Millan is the author of two books of poetry, THE CHRISTMAS SHOW (Beacon Press), which was chosen by Eavan Boland for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and GIRL IN CAP AND GOWN (Mammoth Books). Millan is the recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. Her poems have appeared in Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, 32 Poems, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner and others. Millan holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and directs the Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University.