“Rhode Island” by Amy Miller

Amy Miller


for my mother

That summer in Misquamicut, when boys
as ripe as roadside corn shot pool in darkened
eighteen-over bars, I found the joy
they buried deep in denim straight-front pockets—

pipe screens, joints, and all the damp and salty
wounded want my navigating hands
could plunder. Home and sunburned, bedroom walls
my gulag—no diary, no dolls—digging sand

and ashes from the trenches of my shoes,
I heard her laughing—late, in bed with Dad,
no malice in her voice, in love—a girl whose
moody boy came home for her with mad

martinis, seven jokes to sleep on, sleep
itself a garland he laid at her feet.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007


Amy Miller: “When I was twelve, I wrote a story for an English class, and got an A. I wasn’t a good student, so my parents were thrilled, and made me read it in front of some dinner guests one night. My parents hadn’t read the story, and didn’t know the dialogue contained the word ‘bastard.’ When I blurted that word out, the adults were horrified, aghast—I might as well have thrown a cherry bomb in the toilet. That was my first inkling that creating something out of language could actually have an effect.” (web)

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