3 Poems–Devon Miller-Duggan

Angle of Repose

What falls
achieves shape, water
follows itself
into crystal after crystal
approaching glass or
a garden of white flowers.

Children bear unlit candles,
turning, recessing
faster than we can fall
into line
behind that light.

The Angel Map

No edges, no unimagined corners,
no corners at all, just fold after fold after fold
after fold after fold, each of them only able to fold/unfold
in one direction, so it cannot be mis-folded and yet
it fits neatly into the pocket you would never think
to think was there. No edges = no dragons slavering and
fuming over the boundaries of the known.
This, of course, is the literal world without end.

There is, naturally, only the one mountain—not
so much in the center as the center itself—
rising up from the endless rolling plains with its three peaks
all miles high, and yet the air—see where it says so in the legend—
the air is always plentiful. Still, not everyone who climbs
can breathe. Some lungs it stings.
There are the waters, salt and sweet, seething over rocks
or pooled and placid in the light.
Some forests, which seem to move, where all the trees are ancient,
and through which angels fear to tread.

There are the canyons, all marked, some bridged by their own rocks,
some by swaying ropes and wood.
Not even the angels know how deep they go—
one flew down and never returned to say,
one flew for eons and turned back, its wings shredded.

They’ll show the map if you ask. But I can tell you that
after the seven x seventh unfolding, your head spins.
I think they like to show us, though.
I think they want to tell us there’s a legend.
I think they want us to want to
find our way away.


Trees hold their breaths all long summer—
no wonder the air won’t move.
They harvest green after green, darkening.

Then they breathe out—
air goes hard and full and bright.
Birds hone their wings and skate away.
We know when we breathe—
feel it slicing down our throats
see our sighs leaving us at last. All this keen air

DEVON MILLER-DUGGAN has had poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, The Indiana Review, Harpur Palate, and The Hollins Critic.  She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, a grant and a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, an editor’s prize in Margie, and an honorable mention in Rattle. She teaches for the Department of English at the University of Delaware.  Her first book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall, appeared from Tres Chicas Books in November 2008.


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