[The child’s cry is a light that comes on in the house]

Wayne Miller Click to read more...

Wayne Miller is the author of three poetry collections: The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011; forthcoming) The Book of Props (Milkweed Editions, 2009) Only the Senses Sleep (New Issues, 2006) He has edited two books: Tamura Ryuichi: On the Life & Work of a 20th Century Master (Pleiades Press, 2011; forthcoming) New European Poets (Graywolf Press, 2008) He has translated one book: I Don’t Believe in Ghosts (BOA Editions, 2007), by Moikom Zeqo (trans. from Albanian) He is also the Editor of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing, and teaches at the University of Central Missouri.

The child’s cry is a light that comes on in the house,
when the street is empty and the trees are still.
The light in the window gives voice to the cry,

so when the windows are closed, we still know
her voice is pushing against the walls of her room.
Her cry: a light that comes on in the house,

quivering the filaments in the bulbs, lifting
her parents out of their beds in the dark; at times
a neighbor’s light will echo the cry. Her voice

arriving from what seems to be nowhere—
from inside such a tiny body, it comes on
and on, that cry somehow filling the whole house

when her parents are sleeping, when the world
is sleeping. Like a lighthouse beam it swings around
and out of her body, flooding the window, a cry

emerging from inside a dream, a need or fear
she can’t yet utter; all there is is her breath
pushing the cry, the light coming on in the house—
and her voice: a light planted deep in the cry.

Discussion

One Response to [The child’s cry is a light that comes on in the house]

  1. H. Edgar Hix says:

    Very strong poem. I like the villanelle form used without being too strapped in by it. The variations in the repeated lines make the poem smoother and flow better. Repetition is a tough form to use and Miller uses it very well here.

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