Desert

By Josephine Miles 1911–1985 Josephine Miles
When with the skin you do acknowledge drought,
The dry in the voice, the lightness of feet, the fine
Flake of the heat at every level line;

When with the hand you learn to touch without
Surprise the spine for the leaf, the prickled petal,
The stone scorched in the shine, and the wood brittle;

Then where the pipe drips and the fronds sprout
And the foot-square forest of clover blooms in sand,
You will lean and watch, but never touch with your hand.


September 1934

Source: Poetry (June 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2012
 Josephine  Miles

Biography

Lifelong California resident Josephine Miles distinguished herself as an educator, spending her entire academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first woman to be tenured in the English department. She is remembered as the editor of anthologies and critical texts, as an author of books on poetic style and language, and as an award-winning poet who produced over a dozen books of poems. Her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Tercet

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