[Down from another planet they have settled to mend]

By Josephine Miles 1911–1985 Josephine Miles
Down from another planet they have settled to mend
     The Hampton Institute banisters. They wear bow ties and braces.
     The flutings they polish with a polished hand.

     Wingless, they build and repair
     The mansions of what we have thought to be our inheritance.
     Caution and candor they labor to maintain.

     They are out of phase. I prepare
     To burn all gentle structures, greek or thatch,
     Under the masterful torch of my president here and abroad,

     Till stubble outsmolders, and muslim and buddhist crack
     In the orbit of kiln.
                                   A smoke
     To some calm Christian plant will drift,

     To where they are mending their mansions, beside of whose doors
     They are standing at ease, they are lifting the fans
     Of unburdenable wings.

Josephine Miles, “[Down from another planet they have settled to mend]” from Kinds of Affection. Copyright © 1967 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Kinds of Affection (Wesleyan University Press, 1967)


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Poet Josephine Miles 1911–1985


Subjects Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict