Jennifer Stewart Miller

Lost
by Jennifer Stewart Miller

The lost poems are riding
lost trains north, carried on rails
nailed to cross ties cut from disappeared
chestnut forests—tracks torn-up long ago.

They are headed to where cargo
is loaded and unloaded—somewhere
north of here, but they don’t want you
to know exactly where they’re going,

though they concede that it might be
autumn there—the grasses in the passing
marshes reddish-gold and spikey, like pelts
of grizzly bears laid out for the eyes. This

is also the place where staghorn sumac
lift their fruited racks—alert to the snap
of twig, click of trigger—time
creeping up on them.

These poems debark from trains—
veer off main roads onto sandy paths
that wind through scrub oak
to bluffs—then drop into vast seas.

Some of them long to disappear
into sky like puffs of white egrets
or regrets. Others catch in headlights
at dusk—swans swimming off into fog.

Lost poems are buried in files piled
on desks, under beds, in boxes stacked in closets.
They lie in their paper cemeteries in little
paper towns and villages—attending to the rumble

of passing trains, but always heading
in their minds to the places where the freight
is loaded and unloaded—somewhere north
of here, but also south and east and west.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 4.

Jennifer Stewart MillerJennifer Stewart Miller is the author of Thief (2021), winner of the 2020 Grayson Books Poetry Prize, A Fox Appears: A Biography of a Boy in Haiku (2015), and a chapbook, The Strangers Burial Ground (Seven Kitchens Press 2020). Her poems have lately appeared in Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, RHINO, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, Verse Daily and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and a JD from Columbia University.

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