KR OnlinePoetry

Etude for Your Downs and Ups

Sometimes you enter my brain, and I anchor your suffering
around a theme, but wasn’t I done with themes

let alone suffering? Didn’t I believe only in the senselessly beautiful,

in the peacock flower blossoming at the end of summer,
little cones of bottomless red, brighter orange, brightest yellow
like a too conspicuous harbinger

of fall, a little boy with scarves of sheer cotton to wear
on August nights, one season writing odes for the next? I don’t want to think again
of how best to say, He was bad for your children, or, He has three weak chins anyway.

I want the pure thought, undressed, with the words pooling around my heels,

and your kids filing them into teeth, losing the word
golly inside frozen chocolate bars.

You want to visit me only when you’re under tragedy, wearing
retired pet names and the same serene face
I saw once in a Vatican tapestry of Jesus exiting

his tomb. The only view of the hell

he’s seen is up close in the intense labor
of Flemish hands spooling gold around thread,

which have even stitched up the flashback
of the red wound in his side. You hide here

so I can make you
laugh without your eyes, hold them safely in my hands

like two blue flints that won’t stay lit after lighting
the hearth of your mouth. But it’s another blue
I’m dreaming toward, the one the women

on Spetses would chalk over their lids, an ultramarine
growing black roots in my memory now that I must
add the light to see it by

as I go on.

Corey Miller was born in Herrin, Illinois. He holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers and was the Fall 2014 Philip Roth Resident at the Stadler Center. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Southern Review, Best New Poets 2014, and elsewhere.