Ⓒ Copyright Hugh Miller 2005 -2019
Your hair is like unto a pretty realistic wig, nicely styled,
and your skin like the softly worn vinyl of a subway armrest, warmed by the heavy flesh of Tom
Your eyes like ping-pong balls painted to closely resemble pretty eyes.
You brighten my thoughts like dawn over the exit 170 Park and Ride on a nice day.
Missing you hurts like my funny bone against a marble countertop. Exactly like that.
I do it again and again because the pain reminds me of loving you… (Sonofa)…ok, Jesus, that’s enough now.
When you are away my longing piles up like dishes in the sink,
and my sadness spreads and deepens like socks on the living room floor
(for my Father, 2005)
It is the season of thud and mud,
a season of storms that wash away
It’s good for me to be busy but everything is So. Much. Work.
Gravity has increased, the brakes are locked up.
The wheels are dragging.
I carry my heart like a boulder, sour, and angry.
My tears always nearby, undisciplined as a fart.
I am trying to be strong and positive for my son.
What do you tell a three-year-old about death,
when it’s not a goldfish or flattened bird?
How do you contain the stink of misery while living honestly in front of him?
How do you explain feeling so flat and sad?
My brother says:
“He’s in a better place than any of us.”
And I want to say
“How do you know? What place are you talking about?”
But I don’t say it.
I wake in the middle of the night, wind-whipped,
to find a wall missing from my house.
I stare at it, clutching my robe and squinting red eyes
but in the gap, I see no trees or grass
just the absence of anything at all,
it isn’t gray or foggy,
it is a hole, a negative. It is nothing described as something
to explain the actual missing something it replaced.
It is without qualities.
all I know is that
everything which isn’t
and can’t be
goes there to not be
It isn’t the half-lit, half-life of the ancients;
or sanctimonious Hell,
or sentimental Heaven.
It’s a lecture from a toothache.
It’s a dismal window, explained to me by my pain.
I stayed there before I was born
when I was busy not yet existing.
It’s where I will return when
I become busy existing no more.
Today is the first day of Fall.
My 3-year-old son and I went to the beach and ate hamburgers in the car.
Then crossed the railroad bridge to the saw grass and sand.
The air balanced gently between warm and cold. In the sunshine, the last of summer’s heat warms our skin like a loving farewell.
We dug soft sand and threw rocks and wandered as you only wander with a child.
Nothing to accomplish. No hurry.
A stream comes out of the forest, clear and cold as when it melted into a torrent a hundred miles away, up a mountain from here. Red and yellow leaves ride the stream to its end where sweet water joins salt. Salmon fingerlings pass through to the sea.
We lie on the sand watching dark blue waves and the patchwork sky of scudding clouds like massive billowed sails.
Hundreds of migrating crows come to drink from the stream and caper between sky and ground like flowing ink, written too fast to read.
They tease and flirt like teenagers in the park.
We play with toy cars, dwarfed beside the grey bones of a giant tree that drank sun for hundreds of years before it fell and drifted here; and Isaac repeats the question we all ask, waking to this world:
Doesn’t your young mammal soul ever yearn for the blessing sunshine
and the air as sweet as apples?
Spring Herself is dancing madly in the tall trees with Pan,
his pipes are calling you to join…
But those memes won’t look at themselves
I don’t believe what any man tells me
about life and death
even if he wears a black dress,
or a white one with gold trim,
or one of those cool orange
off the shoulder numbers.
I don’t believe what anyone tells me
in sonorous tones, through incense smoke,
or cool debate, on a pedagogical mountain top,
or framed as science, without the need of method.
Each is a man with the ways of men:
Culture, comfort, and confirmation bias.
Each is given the common volume of freedom,
die-cast the same width and height as mine.
I don’t believe what anyone tells me about God.
But if God talks
with an open mind.
My mother was sunshine,
not the heat and glare of Summer
or the chill minimum of Winter.
My mother was effortless sunshine,
Slantindicular from the bright window
Across the couch and the low table;
Contrasting clean bright colors,
Highlighting details of
Old vacation seashells
Or a tiny golden Buddha,
and a bookmarked book.
My mother was sunshine,
Warming the room to cozy and
Blessing the cat in his joyful sleep
Numinous – having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity. (Oxford English Dictionary)
The numinous is tucked inside of every atom
Like oranges and chocolates in a Christmas stocking,
you can have some the minute you wake up.
“In the water I am beautiful.” –Kurt Vonnegut
At the lake edge, I am a pilgrim, humble, awkward, almost naked.
I step on rocks, cringing forward, top heavy on bone stilts
Entering, absorbing by inches the inhospitable chill
till the short gasp of getting the shoulders underwater.
With an expansive stroke forward I weigh 30 pounds and I can fly. I possess the wisdom of otters.
I hold myself above the earth, my arms, slow-beating wings.
The perfect hug of water, denser than oil, cool as shadows, absorbs me and every whirring, buzzing problem of the day is gone.
My eyes just above the surface, the subtle plashing mirror shows a downwards liquid earth of sloshing trees, sliding hills, and rippling mountains.
Incapable of error, water sings the real tao
it welcomes your joy
it welcomes your expression of slide and float,
of undulate and wave
I am buoyant, spread-eagle human driftwood, eyes closed with a red landscape glowing on my eyelids.
The lake smells like the top of a babies head, like the bed where your beloved slept;
like the iron in blood;
like dusty ozone on the wind before the thunder.
Afterward, the afterglow, lying in the hot sun on the grass
as happy as a tired dog
and blinking up at the shivering aspen
glittering in the blue sky
In a dream more real than waking,
we were athletes, running true
and dancing hard, till breath was short
and you breathed me and I breathed you
pressed together, holding tight,
the pressure built to a teapot boil, and
off we took! Away we flew!
Plucked and held by the Angel, Eros
flown at mad speeds, swerving through
the sleeping trees, and over
the fields of aster, balsam, thistle, rue*
Faster than suddenly, lifted UP
UP to the highest open-air
and UP over green hill,
we startled the wind, who softened,
and sighed to an evening prayer
all the town spread out below
all the lights, warm loving stars
face to face, our hair askew
our mouths, as one, agape, ajar, said:
God, I hope you see this too!
*Aster, Balsam, and Thistle plants are symbolically associated with great love, Rue is associated with regret.
in this infinite blue-gray ocean of
moments that never were, and moments that never can be
come to me, before the horizon takes you,
come to me in this beautifully flowered raft for the moment that is ours alone,
drink wine with me and close the never away outside, for now.
love each other foolishly and fearlessly,
by the light of the other’s eyes, a graze of soft warm breath
on the cheek,
along the neck,
then tender kisses, deep kisses, and kisses on the smile.
our bodies merge, inside as inside can be,
it is impossible to say
who is farther inside the other
then everything, everything, shakes hard.
the scent of warm skin,
heads touching, hair mingled.
in the quiet,
a shared thought cradles us as one.
sleep close to me then, with your head on my shoulder
and my arm around yours,
we’ll rise and fall on soft waves, embracing…whispering until
the morning sky claims you and carries you away
no plan. no goal.
none of this to make the future
bend along the path of an old sad story that
we never remembered in quite the same way.
we’ll use our always to cut this glowing moment
out of the never.