We wanted to believe there was another way to nourish ourselves// No art/ but the soil// The garden—only—an imagination, lapse after the smoke & time scratches back/ forward again an arc on the turntable/ no raised beds, no rows, no one to transport the weeds// What we did till, tilth, tithe/ on the saint’s day an echo, roil in the open sewer channel/ concrete bridges across// Katharine Haake says Maybe you recognize this moment: that stubborn fist of muteness/ balls up in your throat, & you go blank-faced/ & panicky & dumb, disappeared//
Appear/ & the leaf miner/ paper leaves doily chewed valentine/ slug scrape stained glass candy in the sugar cookie lookout// Marjorie Welish says the mind pursues rival murmuring/ The give-up paint thinning from the margins, pin width swirl of tiger skin/ sepia ascetic gazes out of the frame, points to the padlock through his penis, ash-smeared face, caged neck/ a British parlor trick/ coffee table souvenir// Velvetleaf, lambsquarter, columbine/ companion our own distract insectary, hoarse at the opening, opens, closes, what comes out falls on no one, fells nothing/ feels take-out bag caught in the thorns of a blackberry//
In the dark, a layer of stones, of jungle river horse trail unhinged kilometers the light comes & we do not throw up/ the trees open, a field, cattle, wire fence rotting post town wrapped cloud wrapped valley/ & we do not eat shit or cry// The make-believe life rustles under plastic wrap/ used to be a lemon yellow crinoline diorama/ became a fine spun cotton plaid/ a little pigeon-toed caddy cap & chunky frames/ a filter on the rough hewn dinner table// Another way to covet// The things I let you take/ tropic mildewed mattress/ draft of a plea// The moment you can clutch/ the water runs out/ tadpole thrashing into the jar//
Light arrives calcaneal tendon strung, strummed, another clearing, Seussian snag// Gloves off, my fingers slip between the carrot sprouts/ two by three tapestry of unwanted// Simpler to parse the standing than splinter negative space/ chiaroscuro/ we could disappear/ we will degenerate// Retallack says not the We of kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, race, ethnicity, nation, culture but yes, of species, unintelligible as that may seem// First establish a line/ find the babies root web to decomposing leaves/ follow the openings, sky to plantation floor// Invokes Tallique’s “precarious position of needing to act out of conviction”// One clay hole/ one sprouted pod/ feed floor litter/ banana break/ sunbeam// Lotus to rock//
Teresa K. Miller is the author of sped (Sidebrow, 2013) and Forever No Lo (Tarpaulin Sky, 2008). She received her MFA from Mills College and was a writer-in-residence at San Francisco's Sanchez Annex Grotto for three years. Her work has appeared in_ Coconut, DIAGRAM, Word For/Word, MiPOesias, ZYZZYVA,_ and elsewhere.