Spring has come, and
the neighbor’s vines are choking
your azaleas. The nails
that hold the fence awake—
you’re taking a hammer
to their heads, again.
There have been
too many songs today,
pulsing in the air, nursing
the oak’s damp roots.
The previous tenant left
a florid cross, rusted ironwork
like pursed lips, leaning
against the trunk. Prop it up
again when the storms send it
seeking in the grass. Never
ask what it found
This morning you have found a nail driven deep
into the black rubber of your sandal, the left.
You pry the nail loose with a knife swarmed
with sickness, though you’ve scrubbed
and soaked its dull ridges.
But the nail has left a gash across the sandal’s
skin. A scabby stain crowds round,
like summer roaches feasting after a fever rain.
There is no seeing the nail entire, no holding it
in your mind as a finished thing.
You feel the weight of a body
sagging in your arms.
J. A. Miller is a native of the Houston area, though he has spent time in the Midwest pursuing advanced degrees in English, and has traveled in Europe, China and India. In addition to his academic interests (post-colonial fiction, international cinema, and early 20th century modernism), he fills his kitchen with the tang of fenugreek and fennel, and the deep patience of the well-wrought curry that inspires his better poems.