Suzanne Miller


The dream says talk like St. George
in the mouth of Charybdis, and I wake to see
small angels in the bathroom mirror;
I had thought they would be bigger—these
are as substantial as butterflies.

The dream landlord gives me a tree on a rope
that rises like a kite and catches lights like stars.
Then the stars arrange in repeating patterns
as on wallpaper. How long has the dome of heaven
been papered over?

She who has a good mind should use it.
But when others offer to correct my vision,
and I take criticism to heart, I repeat the blows.
This is how I know I am still alive—I touch
the softness of my nose.

Facing light and facing darkness is an illusion
of accretion and dissolution, of timing, and of
touching dependencies. Is the moon we see her face?
Blued-steel pivots in finely oiled rubies support
watch gears let out by the flying hairspring

as poetry is let out by syllables from the flying
mind. I find you this year. You are finally
unattached and lonely. We go out to eat and
take each other home. In the afternoon
of my life, I find a friendly lover.

Platt River, Sandhill Cranes

Cranes graze like turkeys in grassy pastures
and stubbly fields. They fly like geese, but
sometimes are more gawky and fragmented.
They are a more ancient species. Sandhill

cranes’ songs are interesting and beautiful.
They talk to each other like purring cats.
Their tracheas grow so long that they loop
against their breast bones like French horns.

At roosts, conversations swell from a purring
to a symphonic wave to a chaos of war, while
surrounding stirred-up songbirds party.
Small flocks follow their leaders into shallow

waters or onto the edges of sandbars at dusk.
Other leaders and flocks add to these
fine fabrics, and sometimes new leaders take
the points, but the overall shapes most always

resemble birds’ heads with beaks pointed
east. Sunrise will unravel these, reverse
Penelope’s deception. In undoing fine
art, they baffle their foes and survive.

Suzanne Miller lives in a house built in 1900 and teaches community college composition classes online. She earned an MFA from Wichita State University. Her work has appeared in Burningword, First Things, The Mennonite, Plainsongs, Porcupine, and Women of the Plains: Kansas Poetry. Her first poetry book is Storage Issues (Cascadia Publishing House, 2010).