Listening to Etta by Carolyn Miller

Listening to Etta

What is love, anyway?
It must be this pain, this joy,
this wanting the lover’s body,
then the touch of his skin. Like rain
falling on the burned trees
and dry land. Like the salmon
coming back, the white hellebore
blooming on the kitchen table.
That kind of mercy, that kind of grace.
The sense of finally coming home
amid the world’s festival of sorrows,
its carnival of loss. It must be
the moments we can grasp
in the stream of longing,
my new/old love, my lost and found.
Have mercy, baby.


Carolyn Miller is a poet, painter, and freelance writer/editor living in San Francisco. Her books of poetry are Route 66 and Its Sorrows (Terrapin Books), Light, Moving (Sixteen Rivers Press), and After Cocteau (Sixteen Rivers Press), and her essays have appeared in The Sun and The Missouri Review. Her poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and American Life in Poetry, and have appeared in Smartish Pace, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Georgia Review, among other journals.

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