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Theater of Inheritance

Fenced in the naming, a music:

A crescendo of water lifts

a shape. This inspires the first

conscious attempt at sex: The bodies bellow

marvelous, the faces slack

awry. The world stills.

A song in the reeds

orchestrates itself.

We no longer hear miraculous

tales of birth: God’s finger pointing

yes, you carry my next son.

My father almost had

a son. After me: My arrival too

early, too small to survive a night

alone. A blueness snuck into us

and then I breathed. See how I hint

so early. See how a tale

repeats: The water makes marvelous

shapes, so we emulate it. And the song:

A boy put his ear

to my throat,

hand to my loins, and pressed

to hear what he could pluck

from me—I hated it.

I cannot, in good faith, listen further.


CARLY JOY MILLER is the author of Ceremonial (Orison Books, 2018), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2017 Orison Prize for Poetry, and the chapbook Like a Beast (Anhinga Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Rick Campbell Prize.


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