Dark Harvest

By Joseph Millar Joseph Millar

For Annie

You can come to me in the evening,
            with the fingers of former lovers
fastened in your hair and their ghost lips
            opening over your body,
They can be philosophers or musicians in long coats and colored shoes
and they can be smarter than I am,
            whispering to each other
                        when they look at us.
You can come walking toward my window after dusk
            when I can’t see past the lamplight in the glass,
when the chipped plates rattle on the counter
            and the cinders
dance on the cross-ties under the wheels of southbound freights.
Bring children if you want, and the long wounds of sisters
            branching away
                        behind you toward the sea.
Bring your mother’s tense distracted face
                        and the shoulders of plane mechanics
slumped in the Naugahyde booths of the airport diner,
            waiting for you to bring their eggs.

I’ll bring all the bottles of gin I drank by myself
            and my cracked mouth opened partway
as I slept in the back of my blue Impala
                                                          dreaming of spiders.
I won’t forget the lines running deeply
            in the cheeks of the Polish landlady
who wouldn’t let the cops upstairs,
            the missing ring finger of the machinist from Spenard
whose money I stole after he passed out to go downtown in a cab
and look for whores,
            or the trembling lower jaw of my son, watching me
back my motorcycle from his mother’s driveway one last time,
            the ribbons and cone-shaped birthday hats
scattered on the lawn,
                                  the rain coming down like broken glass.

We’ll go out under the stars and sit together on the ground
            and there will be enough to eat for everybody.
They can sleep on my couches and rug,
                                                         and the next day
I’ll go to work, stepping easily across the scaffolding, feeding
the cable gently into the new pipes on the roof,
                                                                  and dreaming
like St Francis of the still dark rocks
that disappear under the morning tide,
                                             only to climb back into the light,
sea-rimed, salt-blotched, their patched webs of algae
blazing with flies in the sun.

Joseph Millar, "Dark Harvest" from Overtime, published by Eastern Washington University Press. Copyright © 2001 by Joseph Millar.  Reprinted by permission of Joseph Millar.

Source: Overtime (Eastern Washington University Press, 2001)

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Poet Joseph Millar

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Love, Relationships, Romantic Love, Realistic & Complicated

Holidays Valentine's Day


Poet Joseph Millar grew up in western Pennsylvania and was educated at Penn State and the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned an MA in poetry writing. He worked as a commercial fisherman and telephone repairman for more than 20 years, and his accessible narrative poems, influenced by the work of poets Philip Levine and James Wright, often take working life as a means of engaging themes of class, family, and romantic love. . . .

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Poems by Joseph Millar

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Romantic Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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