Anne Myles


I recall of it her bedroom piled with books
under the slanted roof, flannel sheets fuzzed
with dog hair, smelling of her hairy dogs,
and the comforter I pulled up, shivering.
Below, she was playing cards with her old friends
but I knew she held on to the thought of me
like keys inside a pocket you can’t stop touching.
Their voices drifted up. The whole house hummed
with secrecy, that I was there, her cherished one.
How many years I’d shaken with pure longing 
just to be beheld, to come inside, to stay.
Sooner than I expected the friends were gone;
she drew me a hot bath, and my fever broke,
and the night was still and just the two of us,
and I slept curled by her warm back and thighs.

How many years, so I can barely now remember 
what fever feels like. Waiting for what might come
and what I can’t imagine coming back again.
Alone, I press my hand to my own forehead, call
some faceless vast beloved to behold me now—
some tenderness without a name to rise
and hold me precious in this house of flesh.

Anne Myles’s poetry has appeared in the North American Review, Split Rock Review, Whale Road Review, Lavender Review, Early American Literature, and other journals. A recent transplant to Greensboro, NC, she is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa and in 2021 received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.