Two Poems By Deborah Zarka Miller

Infant Planet Spin

For now, I am your universe
A muted sphere of pulse and hum.
My blood and breath and brine you nurse,
A melody your movements strum.
I echo your tympanic heart,
That racing thread of liquid sound.
I dome your spinning, global start
Like hands palm-pressed on fertile ground.

Until you tip the orbit’s rim,
Thrust far beyond my gravity
To birth an infant planet’s spin
With earth to moon’s proximity.

Then my solar sun-bright sea
Will but an inch of cosmos be.
(a line of music that slowly and quietly fades away)

The question every day is what she will remember
when she meets us at the door, her white
hair a pretty contrast to the sweatshirt, peacock blue
and zipped to her chin.  Happy for visitors, her words
tumble forward like clumsy children, her hands
reaching for our sometimes familiar faces.

Names she loses easily, but usually not the faces
of her siblings, her parents, old neighbors she remembers
out of order like photographs scattered on a white
tablecloth, her father preaching in a blue
suit, her own soul rattled and lifted by the words
he used to preach down heaven, thunder from his mouth and hands.

On Sundays, she touches her husband’s hands
and asks for names as she scans the faces
of people in the choir.  Even now she remembers
the man who is her brother, on the top row, his hair white
and wavy like her father’s was, his blue
plaid shirt ironed smooth like the crosswords

penciled into orderly rows on the kitchen table. Words
are slippery things, she seems to understand, slipping through her hands
like music notes, small sticks with round blank faces
making faint melodies from an out of tune piano.  Trying to remember,
she traces the framed photographs: forehead, chin, the white
collar of a boy and a man standing by a blue

car with a fishing pole and a flashing blue-
gill on the line.  If she could bait that hook with words
and cast into the deep pond with hands
that didn’t shake, she is certain that the faces
and their names would rise, a buoyant happy clatter, and she would remember
when and how her skin paled, when her hair became so white.

I say her name so she’ll remember the bird-legged college girl wearing white
shoes and a blue dress, piano music turning notes into words
and godly work, her hands open, reaching to touch all the beautiful faces.

Deborah Zarka Miller teaches creative writing, composition, and literature at Anderson University where she serves as English department chair and co-director for the university’s Honors Program. She has published articles in Faculty Focus, an online journal for professionals in higher education.  Her young adult novella, A Star for Robbins Chapel, was released in 2010. She has contributed short personal essays to several anthologies, including Home Again: Memoirs and Essays from Indiana, and a new poem, “Frank and Dorothy”, is forthcoming in Last Stanza Poetry Journal.  She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University.

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