Three Poems ~ Leslie Adrienne Miller



What is he looking at, the ambulance driver
sitting at a table inside a yellow square
of light across the parking lot? Is he
taking reports of those who clutch
their hearts and wonder what, exactly,
a hitch, a stab portends, if it screams,
requires noise and speed and a team,
or is he looking at the bad news of the day,
his daughter’s untoward selfie, a joke
from the ex who’s now more friend
than foe? When he pulls aside
the curtain, oddly lacey in a room
otherwise industrial orange, I wonder
if he’s watching me watch him as I sip
the marvel of this tea called Altarpiece,
a heap of stems and flowers poured
from a paper sack and brought alive
by steep. How many souls
has this driver leaned in to bless
with his ear to the last rush
of summer joys as they flare
and flee; how many squirming
gifts has he lifted, red and squalling,
into the dangerous air? In a village
like this where dark comes at three,
we all see the others at their meals
and ennuis yet never the pain
about to writhe from a mangle
of machinery, or a simple struggle
to breathe. There’s an apothecary
on every corner, and a tea for every ill,
blossoms, stems and roots they
gather all the summer, dry, and steep
against the chill. I try to learn
the local names for lichen,
mint, and heather, absorb the vaunted
gifts of wormwood, oak and linden,
marvel at there being a Second
Youth, a taste of Yellow Kittens,
but I’m sure I’d rather know
what’s in the one called Mother,
the one called Peace.




All day the lacquer of an egg
has insisted in my mouth,
the animal of it refusing
to liquefy completely.

The egg was a blue one
my neighbor took from beneath
his blue hen in the blue air
of early dawn, and we both know

its bright orange yolk
is signature of all the busy wings
born to feed and teem, mosquito,
fly and grub, the dreaded deer ticks

and plague of dotted beetles
my child longed to catch until
he understood they weren’t
entirely benign, but tiny pods

of stink that massed and juiced
and made him sneeze. The egg
was blue clear through
the inside of its shell, unlike

the browns with cream insides,
a blue the hen extrudes early
in the egg’s swell, a blue
that fades with her age,

and becomes a blue so docile
we could miss it, like quiet.
My neighbor balanced the hen
lightly on his arm as I parted,

and I tasted that all day too.




Funny how much recluse sounds
like reckless, and yet is opposite of.
Is what reckless becomes. Can’t
and won’t and retreat. Has no one
else discovered the sound of one’s
voice is ever more faint in the copse?

Recuse, retire, redouble. We say
“earth” when we mean the planet
like a frigate without its spirits,
and “the world” when we mean the wills
of everyone else. It’s those millions
of convictions pressing act, react

or more often, slack boredom, all
peripheral but sure: get up, talk,
tell us what we long to. Tell us
yours, but as we think it ought,
the death story. You can turn it off,
but you don’t. You can turn away,

won’t. Look at all those wishes
like plankton glowing in a tide
or fields where once all fireflies
said dusk, dusk, dusk. If that’s what
we are, then it’s good and right
to fall on one knee to woods,

do nothing but scan scrub
like a face of, marvel of grasses
and thorn in hues that will not take
name, especially in snow,
the delicacy of plum bent
and burned green, the way

a weed can stand up all winter
and fold at first thaw. From Latin
for to shut or close, and not
for the first time, to re-close,
to close again, and maybe to stay
or to keep closing anew

in reaction or rhythm, in stages,
the way my father begins to think,
one year on, that he wants to go again
everywhere they went together,
because the coals must be fed wind
when the grief is still green.