Aiolos and the Bag of Winds
And I endured it and waited, and hiding my face I lay down
The Odyssey (Book X)
When language fails, there is sound,
and the rustling of potted ferns
growing near the screen door.
On this porch after school, I cared for a child
found in an empty factory,
her new father in the garden
among sugar snap peas rubbing together,
glimmering as though moving in rain.
Upstairs, the doll-sized nightgowns
were folded into squares
like canvas sails
pressed closed. I’d try to calm her.
She’d open her eyes, just aware of my voice,
the way my sister turns her head
to the car window, to Main Street’s
orange words on signs,
the heavy trees spreading night around us.
She slides off her thumb ring, rubbing it,
balancing the silver circle
on one jean kneecap, the comb of her hand
behind an ear. My voice comes
from another place.
The parking lot is dim, ordered, and quiet.
There is a sound—a fist? I see the man
in my mind wearing a sweatshirt,
his hood pulled over a red hat.
Orange sun moves over cars,
warms the under-skin of clouds, rests somewhere
on the roof of a carwash like a paper disk
I had cut with red-handled scissors as the solar eclipse
collected noon into a shadow
among the gray trees outside, beyond our desks.
Stravinsky (from his writings) dreamed of a young girl,
her erratic hands grabbing nothing,
wrapping the air in scarves around her neck.
I drive down the highway sparking with hubcaps
in the animal flight of plastic bags—here, ambulances
shriek every few minutes. I pull into a gas station,
wipe bird smears off my window with some paper.
Pump fumes smell like greasy hamburgers.
Your hair, your hair is red. The man is behind me,
his pale eyes smoothing my shoulders,
drawing a cold line under my T-shirt.
Your hair is red in the sun. No. Sky
bands the nearby Dollar Store window;
feeling followed, behind some junky trees I see a crane
lifting from the concrete, gold, the way a harp
unfolds in an orchestra—not a wing, but a thin wild sail.
Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre (SIUP 2013) which won the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. She is currently in the PhD program for creative writing at the University of Illinois—Chicago. contact