Jennifer Stewart Miller

On Seeing
by Jennifer Stewart Miller

Genus Planaria—tiny flatworms found under rocks in streams and ponds

Sunlight glints off two upside-down shiny
tin trash can lids and off the water that fills
and fills them from a garden hose:
the water shivers in these silvery pools.

My mother, cross-legged, hunches over the lids,
recording what her flatworms are doing—
for this experiment, she’s chopped off
their heads—killed them—No, no,
she explains, their heads grow back—
you can even cut them in half.
Sunlight
flashes too brightly off the water, off
the new metal, and she says, Look, do you see
how they’re turning away, how they don’t need
eyes to see the sun?

And this is the world, always, my whole life,
this brightness—Look, Mom, no eyes!
I know where the sun is.
But now I see
where they were going all along—their sun
is under rocks—it’s the dark that shines.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.

Jennifer Stewart MillerJennifer Stewart Miller grew up in Vermont and California, and now lives in Bronxville, New York. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and a J.D. from Columbia University. In past lives, she’s practiced law, served as a court-appointed advocate for a boy in foster care, dated clay tobacco pipes, and fought forest fires. Her first book, A Fox Appears: a biography of a boy in haiku, is forthcoming, and she is at work on her second collection of poetry.

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