“Those Who Once Lived There Return” by Wendy Miles

“What We Leave Behind,” Image by Dawn Surratt.
(See also “The Unspoken” by Margaret MacInnis.)

There where a golden bird is made
golden by October’s slanting light,

through the threshold of the hidden house
the empty clothes are seated in chairs.

The threshold gone, go ahead
and float. No one to see. Listen.

One loose shingle shifts
and forever tumbles.

A wooden drawer wails,
one hammer hitched on scissors.

You know something lies dead
across the road. Barbed wire fence,

rusted, looks to have uprooted posts
and embedded itself in tight periphery.

Even so, how can anyone sleep
with the windows nailed shut?

Can the bird know how golden
its body becomes? If you place the cup,

twist the dishrag, fold it in such a way,
look out the window again. You saw once

a cat snatched up by a hawk, legs
splayed straight as sticks.

How those bodies merged.
How those bodies merged

and awakened the air.



Wendy Miles’s work has been anthologized and appears in places such as Arts & Letters, Memoir Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The MacGuffin and Alabama Literary Review. Winner of the 2014 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, semi-finalist for the 2016 and 2013 Perugia Press Prize and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she teaches writing at Randolph College in Virginia.

Read an interview with Wendy here.


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