Proper Abecedarian 1: Turns


And fall and the light tasting of good scotch, like
belief you don’t even need to swallow before it lights your tongue.
Catching up. Coming back. Cleaning off. It’s okay—you
dove fingers-first into the blue pool summer. Climb out.

Ends. Hinges. Folds (mountain, valley). Turning. Summer’s
fainting from her own heat,
grating her bare toes on sidewalks, self-abrading for penance.
Here the light pours like waking, even as it shortens. Dirt
inherits the leaves it fed.
Just as after harvesting, it’s good to cut things back to ground.
Kin to air all summer, your skin remembers separateness.
Limber all summer, your skin recalls contraction.
Much presents itself, absents itself—like family or
nerves shifting sequence—firing or frosting
or fluttering your fingers, your skin, leaves. Hinges all manifest in skin,
plain skin against the plain surface of shift, and
quieting the way deer quiet before bending to feed. Air
rounds on us, carves us a cave to wear,
so wound about you—
too hungry for love,
unknowing what we knew, yet
voluptuary as eiderdowns,
weathering the bustle and turn, the
xerosis of leaf and ground, then frost killing rot.
You can love your skin again because it requires you cover it,
zealous for keeping close.

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.