The Face We Know, the Name
By James Miller
I have been reading Grayling
on friendship, learning the word
conviction, holding a high note
on my lips as olive oil slips
silent from plastic jug to table-
spoon. A coppery glow doled out
to serve the dry couscous.
The philosopher says there are two
flavors of obligation: to the stranger
(or the earth, or poisonous tree-frogs
or reddish algae on the last rocks
under the last years of the last sun).
And to the face we know, the name.
This is what I remember of you.
Once we crouched in your bedroom,
flanged strings till the guitar’s every note
came out as one. A thick smoggy sound,
post-pitch and post-vocal.
We took mics outside, stalked
the complex at dusk, caught
air condensers coughing to life,
crunch of sneakers on over-mown grass,
hum of powerlines. For hours
we layered grain on grain, folded in
truck-treads and voices of plant-workers
home from 12-hour shifts. Trimmed
both ends till all rose and fell
with our beatless track—blind,
hairless as the shape of being.