A Prologue: 1/19/2021


Our mailbox is new, and smooth. 

A tightness 

of grief when the door is closed 
on generously stamped postcards, 
messages meant for overseas friends 
in Lambeth. 

Years ago

he showed me the Blake murals 
blocks from his flat: traces 
of uncanny


godhead in toenail tile, lurking 
under a bridge.
I looked for bags of onions, 

a roll
of coins, blanket folded tight
underarm. 

But
there were only prophecies

frozen in industrial time,

a few chipped
lambs

slow to their slow sharing.

 

And
the parsonage 
across the street
has been sold. 

A pink
couch lifted on the sidewalk,

carried in 
through 
their open 
front door. 

 

Yesterday, 
the couple and their teenage son 
emerged with matching black T-shirts.

 

They turned
to take in the neighborhood, on foot. 

 

I waited for them to make the corner 
before pulling out of our driveway. 
Fear of bloodguilt, flattened
dogs, lawsuits, slashed tires.

They have uprooted
the old Jesus is Risen sign 

 

left over from last
Easter.
   

My French is not fresh
enough for the Pensées.

In Paris we once sat across from
an old man on the metro. He was practicing
his English with calls to dig mass graves 
for socialists. 

It was hot that summer, before
the cathedral burned. We swooned
through the opera, sweated and stank
in a box with three strangers. Orpheus
called out to the dead. 

After, we stood on the street.
Weeping, unafraid of happiness.

I wanted to play Gluck’s last chorus
for the fascist on the train. 

 

His false teeth
would grow true. His lips
would bleed schoolboy Latin.

The neighbors are putting up
a swing on their porch. 

I want to believe 
they will not come out

shooting.

I want to meet them
on our lawn
and share

chords
for the song I have been learning
since Sunday. I am down I am down,
I am down in a deep, dark hole.

The melody is simple enough, and
when I found the deep, rumbling
part of my voice, I could feel
the soil shift in my hair, 

behind
my ears.

 

It is winter here, but
the earth


is not cold.

- Deja Samuel

James Miller won the Connecticut Poetry Award in 2020. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Typehouse, Rabid Oak, pioneertown, North Dakota Quarterly, Yemassee, Phoebe, Mantis, Scoundrel Time, Permafrost, Grey Sparrow Review, Blue River, 8 Poems, After Happy Hour, Two Hawks Quarterly, Concho River Review, SOFTBLOW and elsewhere. Follow on Twitter: @AndrewM1621

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