“I Dream I Dance with My Sister” by Scott Miles

Scott Miles


Something kind of melancholic
vapors off the record’s back.

It has brought out a bruise of stars,
the black woman’s voice

so full of a good slow hurt
I can’t pretend I know it.

How is it my sister’s feet
have come to guide mine backwards,

one black shoe at a time,
that our steps have synched like this,

long and light as my dream-white sheet,
while we sleep apart?

Six hundred miles between myself
and where her toes curl

against the ankle of a woman
I barely know, the threads

of roads between us just
beginning to ripen to day,

so how is it we are suddenly
so comfortably together

in a room where no one is—
not even our mother, whom we

have silently murdered a thousand
times—and dancing? How is it

we know how we’re supposed to feel
when the electrified air

tells us, no it don’t come easy?
That trouble’s hardly graceful

unless the right person’s holding
the mic. How is it

I’ll never again be so okay
with the embarrassment

that burns my cheeks
when I look my sister right

in her masculine smile
and say I Love You,

sister-brother, fish-bird,
something I’ve never once done

in my sad adult life,
and put my own lightly

bristled cheek against
her squared jaw

and hold on like she
had come to save me.

It would never happen,
our dancing. We’d never

abandon ourselves
to move like this, the way

even air says we were born
to do it. Not in spite

of some conjoined fever,
but because of one.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015


Scott Miles: “Most of my family still lives in the South. A few years ago, I relocated to the Midwest to pursue an MFA, and so it seems distance had a big hand in this poem. I never would have had that dream, or the feeling of clarity it gave me, had I not uprooted myself in the first place. It was a rare kind of realization that I just sort of stumbled upon. I’m just glad that I was able to give form to it.”

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