Shawndra Miller


In the blue ocean-sky above the Great Basin
swim birds who own immensity,
their hollow bones and feathers made to rise,
to know the far horizon.

Still some are otherwise inclined.

A blackbird lights on the rent screen of my door, his daily visit.
He’s torn the mesh to make a parted curtain, a raveled lectern—
this hole the work of weeks or more.
He all but clears his throat, then:
His first note fogs the glass with hot beak breath.
His shoulder blazes quiver at the trill.

He taps his bill on the glass.

I think he means to strike an enemy only he can see.
Will he work the glass till it too cracks under his beak?
Each day he turns his back to the blue,
chooses to pick at his own image
while just behind him breathes infinitude.

What say you, Blackbird? Your song’s in my ears from dawn to dusk.

Do you call me to hammer an opening
of my own making? Or do you mirror my foolish face,
reflecting made-up threats I cannot quash
while ocean-sky—my birthright too—invites me, laden as I am,
to swim for that horizon?

Mennonite by birth, mystic by nature, Shawndra Miller is a writer who lives in Indianapolis. Her work has appeared in Farm Indiana, Acres USA, The Boiler Journal, and other periodicals. She is currently working on a nonfiction book about community resilience, while blogging about the world's remaking HERE.