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Aria and Other Poems – Carolyn Miller

Mar 5, 2022 | Poetry | 2 comments


Nothing is so beautiful as the ground
of being. And though the possible too
is beautiful, for it is the engine of desire, nothing
is so beautiful as the real, like unexpected flowers
on the doorstep: fragrant, fragile, marked for death,
unfolding moment by moment, lighting the room,
lingering in the mind long after they have faded.

The lushness of meaning rose to its height in summer,
festooned with lilies and snapdragons, bouqueted
with leaves and the tiny white flowers
that turn into beggar’s lice. I picked bunch after
bunch and brought them back for my mother’s dining
table, where they dropped showers of petals and stamens
and pistils, leaf hairs and insects and pollen, seed
pods and leaves, dirt and dust and drops of sap.

The green paths of the world keep calling, edged with poison
oak and wild asparagus, crumbled with broken rock and trampled
herbs. So time extends. The past grows deep and rich;
the future moves toward me, cruel and bounteous,
like the sea.


After Sappho

[            ] years later
I remember
your full mouth

because of you
[              ] I hope
time is a circle

[               ] you
walking toward me
in your face



bless your heart that has stopped beating
bless your soul and bless your starched dresser cloths
and lemon meringue pies your carefully
written-out recipes and your Bible with its list
of names bless your threadbare towels,
the faded quilts your one old lipstick your souvenirs
of the Holy Land the clothes
you never mended the poems of mine you kept
bless the fading color photographs and
the walls and their cracked plaster bless
the basement filled with mildew bless its bugs
bless the trees we dwelled among and
the kitchen with its smells of food
soaked into the walls


Afternoon Sun

The light goes fast now in November.
The old cat no longer seeks the sun,
or even seems to see it. Instead, he crawls
beneath the comforter, emerging just
to lie down on my chest and look into my eyes
as if to say, “What is the answer?” But then
he lays down his head and throws his paw
across my shoulder, for like me, he knows
there is no answer, there is just this day,
just this world, rolling light to dark
and dark to light, accumulating sorrows,
only what we have and what we want,
only this small sunlight, ringed with fear.


Words for the Fire

This is what goes into the fire: angry stars,
sorrowful oceans, the longing of tables,
the grief of horses, the despair of dogs. The rivers
of my life will boil. What a great heat I will make!
The sunbursts of my pores will spout
small bright fountains.


Carolyn Miller’s books of poetry are Route 66 and Its Sorrows (Terrapin Books, 2017); Light, Moving (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2009); and After Cocteau (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2002). Her poems and essays have appeared in The Sun, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Sewanee Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Zyzzyva, The Gettysburg Review, and The Georgia Review, among other journals.


  1. Murray Silverstein

    Love these poems by Carolyn Miller. Calming. but not sentimental. They have a clear, cruel and true feel to them. A real lift to read. Aria and Sappho my faves. Thank you. (Type face of the poems could be a little darker.)

  2. Sheila Brady

    Carolyn Miller’s work is brave. These poems are about beauty. Not many are willing to go there, into that deep.


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