by James Miller

I sit on the bed in our hotel room, watching
your preparation for tomorrow’s rehearsal.

You hold the score in a black binder, one
hand free for gesture, wide and close. Your voice

swallows itself, agrees for now to modest volume.
You kneel, reach for a lover, a prospect,

a seduction. Mozart’s vocal line hangs on doorknobs,
lampshades alongside your damp stockings.

The notes taste of fenugreek and rue. I listen
for the door beside ours opening and closing,

murmurs and fumbling of locks. Clanking metal
dragged from the room into the carpeted hall.

Shudder-sounds: bedframes or curtain rods,
dropped one on another as shells of slimy shrimps

accumulate in the course of a great blowout boil.
Then silence. The workers will finish on this floor

and take elevators up to the next job. The arc of melody,
yes. It is near enough. Your secret, sweet speaking.

James Miller won the Connecticut Poet Award in 2020. His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Across the Margin, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Juked, Meat for Tea, Main Street Rag, Plainsongs, The Atlanta Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rogue Agent, Sweet Tree Review, Thin Air, The Inflectionist Review and elsewhere.


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