We walk together on the moonlit grounds
of a hunting lodge on Island Mountain
turned into a spiritual retreat.
I must talk to you. Our classes end tomorrow.
Beautiful, casual, you look at me
and ask what I want. The moment is shocking.
We face each other on the pale hillside.
I know you love a man in Minneapolis,
but I feel so strongly that you and I
should be together. I’ll bring my guitar
and typewriter to your home in Buffalo.
We’ll live together while you teach dance school.
You thank me for my offer,
but you’re too confused to decide right now.
Donna called me from the Briceland pay phone,
asked me for directions up the road,
said she’d found her missing credit cards
and wanted to return the money she borrowed.
I met her at the gate, led her on the trail
through the woods to my house, expecting
her to only stay for a few minutes.
She said she read my poems at the cafe,
had the sudden thought that someone who
appreciates the natural world so much
deserves all the love she can give.
She kissed me on the couch, then asked me
if I wanted to get horizontal.
I said yes, and she took off her clothes.
I’m crazy, driving toward pink sunrise
in a pickup with sometimes growling u-joints.
I get pulled over for passing a boat
east of Susanville near Honey Lake.
In Moab, I buy eleven dollars of gas,
but discover after I drive away
the attendant didn’t give me any gas.
East of Evanston, a great big clunk,
and here I am at B & B Towing,
waiting for a transmission from the junkyard.
My friends in Boulder and Kansas City,
my parents in Sharon Center,
my sweet dancer in Buffalo,
will have to understand I got delayed.
The full moon won’t set till dawn.
I’m parked in a pickup truck camper
off the side of a dirt road
somewhere in eastern Kansas.
Cicadas buzz, crickets chirp,
farm dogs bark in the distance.
Twelve hours is too much night
for me to stay asleep.
In this house of aging parents is a sampler
stitched by a girl a hundred thirty years ago.
Everyone seems to be someone else’s cousin.
The same folks have stayed here a long time,
and their children and grandchildren
are growing different grains than before, maybe,
but they’re still here and still farming.
Donna’s teaching at the dance school.
I’m walking around her home,
the first floor of a two story house
in windswept Buffalo.
My shoes tap on the bare oak floor,
lots of open space for dancing,
a pleasant zen-like emptiness.
Most of the walls are pale yellow green.
The high ceilings and woodwork are white.
The doorways have rounded corners.
She has even more books than I do,
a few spider plants in the windows.
The thermostat gives me about
eight degrees fahrenheit more
than however I set it.
The lamps are miscellaneous.
The switches are hard to find
or easily become unplugged.
I’m so in love I’ve blown all my fuses.
I wish I had someone to talk to,
outside our subjective joy,
but my friends are far away.
My mind is filled with genitals and breasts,
hands and mouths and eyes, yours and mine,
an endless dance of love, back and forth.
Like the Tao, our passion comes from calmness.
Our eyes are clear pools of ancient wisdom
shared in whispers while twilight becomes dawn.
The composition is a golden rectangle,
a strip of trees and sky and river smooth
over the cliff’s edge, right and left forward,
embracing the center, where a vignette
of white mist obliterates the bottom,
background to a swarm of gulls
over waves that mimic a stormy sea.
Through your binoculars, each piece of scene
is enlarged to the detail it deserves.
Strings of green water plunge relentlessly
through vast space to the tempest far below.
Gulls have eyes, beaks, feathers, each unique.
We’re so close that my camera can’t frame it all,
but so far away the falls are silent.
I suppose I should have expected this.
I wanted you so much, you wanted me,
I tried to persuade you away from him,
now you’re in Buffalo, I’m in California.
You didn’t even listen to my tape.
I read lines from the Lay of Leithian,
of Beren falling in love at the sight
of Luthien, dark-haired elf maiden
dancing magic in the ancient forest.
Tolkien could have been describing you.
Touching your skin felt like such an honor.
I don’t think my rival knows what he has.
What woman can I find to take your place?
Sweet dancer, even you’re not what I thought.
Like crystal beads,
raindrops on leafless branches
shimmer in the wind.
Hour after hour, rain taps the roof;
strings of falling water become streams.
This is the rain that turns dry gullies
into raging rivers of creamed coffee,
rain that keeps me near my fire.
Even the space under the house
where I keep my firewood seems damp.
copyright © 2005 Carl Miller
Drawing, “Niagara”: 2009, gel pen on paper, 6 x 10 inches.