Home / Issue 33 / The Face We Know, the Name

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.

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