I sense the trees’ light filtering the room—
knowing nothing about the tulip tree
canoe flipped so its stomach slopes up,
scuffed by quartz tumbled in the shallow drag.
I’ve walked here in the wetness holding rain,
endangered lady slippers dipping petal shoes,
dashes of pink in mud—and you’re not here.
In my dream you write IBIS above
BREAD and RUM—block letters, the R tail
ripped quick, down, as if something shoved your pencil.
There’s a sense of inversion—the tumblehome’s
inward curve of canoe above the water
faces the floor now, would be sloshing in wetness,
inversion in the wood blurring white
sky and itself in the lake. I knew you.
On shelves, round grass or twig baskets
fill with nothing. Tiger lilies are dying.
I’ve heard the dark rustle along your house,
my fingers glowing around a flashlight and touching
blackness, leaves, lumps of chewed blueberries.
Tyler Caroline Mills was awarded Crab Orchard Review’s 2009 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize and the 2008 Third Coast Poetry Prize. Her work is forthcoming in New Letters and has appeared in The Georgia Review, Water~Stone Review, Indiana Review, Best New Poets 2007, and Gulf Coast, where she won the Gulf Coast poetry prize in 2006. She lives and teaches in Maryland. (4/2009)