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poem



by James Miller



Chilean Seizure



We flew to Calama,


rented a car and drove through the desert,

joined the tour in four languages.


Jefferson, our guide, grew up in Detroit—

part-time.


His Spanish now swarmed with tiny shrimps,

alight


in Atacama’s perfect pools.

A thin breath off the mountain

woke that bruised blue wet.


In English, Jefferson loved to say

“stable ecosystem,”


each word

speared by a single flamingo

feather.


He showed us the birds

arrayed in briny shallows,

feeding their color.


He waited for our fingers

to trace crusts of salt on the shore.


I wanted

to wake you

before one a.m.,

to say


it is time for us to leave on foot.


We have enough water

for the work. It will be worth

the chill before sunrise,

and the sweat

as we near

noon.


Choose

a border

crossing.


North to Peru,

east to Bolivia.


Doesn’t matter which.


Before

I could speak, you turned

in your sleep, wheezing

with altitude.


I left my body,

for a time. Visited

the dusty cats

in our tourist village.


Learned

to lick steady till coats shine.

Sat patiently with the spirit

of fleas.


There was Jefferson,

crouched on a stoop

with a cigarette. Reggae

low through his window.

Songs of rent, cities

slicked with cheap

rain.


 

James Miller is a native of the Texas Gulf Coast. He is published in Best Small Fictions 2021 (Sonder Press) and the Marvelous Verses anthology (Daily Drunk Press). Recent pieces have appeared in Sugar House Review, Door is a Jar, JMWW, Dunes Review, Psaltery & Lyre, CV2, and The Inflectionist Review. Follow on Twitter @AndrewM1621. Website: jamesmillerpoetry.com.

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