When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.
But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire
I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.
Wayne Miller was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received a BA from Oberlin College in 1998. After a year working in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, he went on to receive his MFA from the University of Houston, where he studied with Adam Zagajewski. Miller is the author of four poetry collections: Post– (Milkweed Editions, 2016), The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011), The Book of Props (Milkweed Editions, 2009), Only the Senses Sleep (New Issues, 2006) and The City, Our City (2011). Miller is also known for his work as an editor and a translator. / NWCC say thank you for the poem!