I / Self / Woman in Berlin

1930

I saw two doves today. They became tricks

in the wind: white like a gum

eraser. I saw a tree enclosed in a wrought-iron

fence. What if it fattens, the trunk,

pressing against the metal? It’s ashy branches

bunch up at the sky in shivering bouquets

of green and shimmer as the city wakens

like water shoving through the wreck

of a ship: the pewter cups and spoons,

the bones of the captain at the hull.

At the top, all is calm. From above,

what do you see, birds? I think I am

you, some mornings while I stand,

back to bricks like now, and smoke

for seven minutes and watch the dial

shifting under the glass like one

regiment seen from above, in the mountains.

ξ


Chorus Played on a Victrola by the Ethnographer: Arousal

I try to learn magical properties

to open the gates “nice” “friendly”

like an actress who portrays elegant

villains

How shall I become beautiful in a suit

morally crystallized

from the former

inchoate human mass

ξ


Ethnographer’s Notes: The Delicate Language of Signs

But the real power of light is presence.

It alienates you from the flesh, casts you

a costume

the setting sun, prairie landscapes,

and cowboy songs might never manage.

The world is not as it is but as it appears—

the splendid view of the city by night star-spangled

like denial. In the window of one store,

mannequin dolls pose

in petalled clothes among the orchids.

Do not lean out

someone wrote across the glass.

ξ


Tyler Mills is the author of two books of poems, Hawk Parable (winner of the 2017 Akron Poetry Prize) and Tongue Lyre (winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Poetry, and her essays have appeared in AGNI, Copper Nickel, and The Rumpus. The recipient of residencies from Yaddo, Ragdale, and the Vermont Studio Center, and scholarships/fellowships from Bread Loaf and Sewanee, the Chicago native is an assistant professor at New Mexico Highlands University, editor-in-chief of The Account, and a resident of Santa Fe, NM.