Self-Portrait Formed with Unrelated Contents


Don’t look at the girl pirouetting over the cattle guard even if

she’s wearing a pink gingham bikini in the evening. This isn’t

about nightshade plants or sinewy cats floating the fence line.

We have other fish to fry after the migraine aura leaves her limbs

and lips numb as a stroke. Okay, the cattle guard is true. And there was

an orange elephant bank, petunias in pots, and a little row to hoe.

But listen. There was mercy. She came to god and her days

cracked apart like jackhammered cement and the stairs wobbled

and the mother said she was brand new and the girl in gingham—it’s true—

went on about her business. Her business was watching out

for the sky to be right. Listening for a car door in the dark. Twisting

banana ice pops in her mouth and not dangling her clean bare legs

in places where she knew good and well snakes could be.




Self-Portrait with Magic and Swallowing


At times it was like this, wasn’t it. Barn after rickety barn

and a series of cloudy directions. Sometimes night

curled in your fleshy young mouth. There’s no cure

for the dark birds you’ve eaten. Through the tall grass

a beautiful couple comes swaggering into view.

They’ve been ambling with the water dogs again.

Yes, there’s a house here hidden from view.

Yes, the deer bed in that thicket.

Two leisurely bodies ease one into another

like rope coiling over itself. The smell of water,

bailing twine, honeysuckle, dusk. Yes,

someone is dying. Blood slogs through the body

and flesh tugs at flesh. Copper-penny taste on the tongue.

There’s the tuneful splash of water bird or dog.

Delicate bones collect—each churned out clean from your lips.


by Wendy Miles

Wendy Miles’s work has been published or is forthcoming in places such as Prairie Schooner, Tupelo Quarterly, Arts & Letters, Memoir Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The MacGuffin, Alabama Literary Review and R.kv.r.y. Quarterly. Winner of the 2014 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a semi-finalist for the 2017, 2016 and 2013 Perugia Press Prize, Wendy lives and writes in Virginia.

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