I Started Early, by Carolyn Miller

I Started Early,

took my dog, the one that has been dead now
for more than sixty years, and I took some Duncan Hines
blueberry muffins tied in a bandanna, and
my TWA bag and the itinerary for my bicycle trip
to Europe in 1961 and the pop-up card that Bill Henry
made to celebrate my trip, and a baby nightgown
that ties at the bottom, a silver bracelet,
my mother’s diamond ring, and my white suitcase
with a lining of blue taffeta, and we set out toward
Big Piney by way of the German village
my great-grandfather escaped from, the one
that is no longer there, and we looked around
at the empty fields and wondered where
my cousins were, the grandchildren
of my grandfather’s brother, but no one came
along the road and no doors were there
to knock on. Then we set out for Ireland,
though I didn’t know how to find the place
Peter and Bridget Kelley fled from, what county,
what low house, what blasted fields they left behind,
so we sat in a green field, my dog and I, and thanked them
for their courage and their desperation, and I sang
a little song to the ocean Emily never saw,
and to the journey and my dog, who even then
was digging in the dirt, still hoping for a groundhog,
and finally I struggled to my feet and started off
for Big Piney Township and the farm, the lost town
and the lost farm, the lost cave and the spring
and the bullfrogs in the spring branch, calling.


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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