Wayne Miller



When at last Justine arrives, he’s at the piano.
The hammers strike and rise

with his fingers, and the pedal’s damp
shifting carries through the instrument

as waves echo through the frame of a ship.
Outside, each car marks a moment’s

passing, and when a muffler rattles,
Justine looks out the window, then back

to Clarence as he presses into clay
the shape of another chord. He's always

imagined music as a sort of climbing —
by the song's end, he's reached into a brief

rapture of completion (as a child reaches
into a cabinet of sweets). Though

now he thinks perhaps the music's
more like a map of rain hitting water —

he's moving closer to her without moving;
and how wonderful to be held from her

at last by nothing but the song's duration —


First a church,
then an awning,
then a dog
licking a stain
from a cobblestone,
windows through
which strangers
obliquely mirror
the recognizable,
an empty fountain
full of dry leaves,
a corner — motorcycle
firing itself away —,
steps to a hospital
(or a school), a beautiful
woman descending
along an iron rail,
a sidewalk café— chairs
pressed to the wall
as if by the wind —,
a word he knows
from the mouth
of an old woman,
or her son, an ice
cream cart, a sewer
smell rising like water,
a hawker hawking
for a strip club, a hostel,
or a day spa, a cigarette
tossed deliberately
from a balcony,
a yellow wall
catching the light —
taking his breath —,
a butcher sawing
through slabs
of bone, a kid
with a busted lip
rushing past,
knocking Andy down,
so he must rise
and check his hands
for grit, one by one
gather up his
scattered belongings —