Proper Abecedarian 6: January


Another bandage, another look-every-stranger-in-the-eyes, another
bothering to breathe your own city’s lights or another’s, which
chatter away about new years and old sins, old beauties, old streets. Another
daughter wears a ring and light.

Either there is breath, or not. Light, or not. Grace, or not.
Familiar as breath and light—grace. Yet you let it be
guttered like the candles after mass. But
hotter than your angry-at-nothing heart, ready with a shovel. Wind alone
inters all the previous year: dispersal=burial. You scribe up the count and
jitter toward the new one. She’s the
knotter of rages, tangler of wires, snarler of threads. She’s the
lurch from failure to faint, kickshaw to nice, gravity to grace.

Matter is a house for time. Or grace.
Natter is a prayer for blindness. Or grace.
Other is a trap for loathing. Or grace is a
plotter, a calendar, an arc, a spark
quivering in the longest nights. You sleep
rather than speak to your familiar, your pen, your
shattered mirror. You love what
tethers you. Pray it holds you while the dark
utters its litany of darknesses, winds. Bullets
vector into veins, red stars.
Water becomes breath & slip, falls as harmless. The church’s ribs become
Xylophone—toy on which you learn your notes. Grace
yearns for your throat, or a pen. Air
zithers against your skin—rough tongues of angels licking the hard-born year alive.

Devon Miller-Duggan

Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in RattleShenandoahMargieChristianity and LiteratureThe Indiana ReviewHarpur PalateThe Hollins Critic. She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, a grant and a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, an editor’s prize in Margie, honorable mention in Rattle. She teaches for the Department of English at the University of Delaware. Her first book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall appeared from Tres Chicas Books in November 2008. Her chapbook of off-kilter poems about angels, Neither Prayer, Nor Bird was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.