I sense the trees’ light filtering the room—
knowing nothing about the tulip tree
canoe flipped so its stomach slopes up,
scuffed by quartz tumbled in the shallow drag.
I’ve walked here in the wetness holding rain,
endangered lady slippers dipping petal shoes,
dashes of pink in mud—and you’re not here.
In my dream you write IBIS above
BREAD and RUM—block letters, the R tail
ripped quick, down, as if something shoved your pencil.
There’s a sense of inversion—the tumblehome’s
inward curve of canoe above the water
faces the floor now, would be sloshing in wetness,
inversion in the wood blurring white
sky and itself in the lake. I knew you.
On shelves, round grass or twig baskets
fill with nothing. Tiger lilies are dying.
I’ve heard the dark rustle along your house,
my fingers glowing around a flashlight and touching
blackness, leaves, lumps of chewed blueberries.
Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013). She also was awarded Crab Orchard Review‘s 2009 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize, the 2008 Third Coast Poetry Prize, the 2006 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, and publication in Best New Poets 2007. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Copper Nickel, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. She is editor-in-chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought and assistant professor of English at New Mexico Highlands University. (updated 4/2016)
Tyler Mills has also published at AGNI as Tyler Caroline Mills.