The National Poetry Review

Jennifer Stewart Miller


Giacometti’s Walking
is a headless lesson,
bronzed and archetypal—

take something, or
everything, away from this woman,
and still, she walks on.

Once, she had a head
But Giacometti chopped it off—
which I can’t help but feel

ambivalent about. Eyeing
this lissome female form,
I can imagine why a head

might have seemed
a distraction. And yet,
there’s something about a head…

In a darkened room, a video plays
in which blind people paint
self-portraits on huge sheets

of paper rolled out on the floor.
And the first thing they each do
is give themselves a head.

Squirting black, red, blue
from plastic bottles, they dab on
features—eyes and mouths.

And we would need legs as well,
one woman says,
as she smears herself a set.

The large head and little legs
look like a giant ovum
being admired by two sperm—

and this, also, is fundamental.
A man painting a landscape
squirts far too much yellow

on the paper, and says,
Let’s just make the sun bigger.
And so, he does. My friend

Suzanne was like that.
Blind from Type 1 diabetes,
she always spoke

as if she could see,
as of course she could—
her own version, not

the darkness I expected.
On my way to the museum,
I walked across the Thames,

which was sleek and rippling,
like a muscled, oiled arm
reaching upriver to where

Suzanne used to live.
Frail as she was, she blazed
like a torched oil well with desires—

to ski down mountains,
to see her only child grow up.
The last time she called,

I didn’t answer the phone
or call her back,
and you’d have to

chop off my head
to rid me of regret. Today,
I press play on the machine

and she wishes me
a Happy Birthday again. Eyes
closed, I let her voice

wash over me. I love
the body, its ability
to endure, to keep

walking, walking,
even if the fierceness
is all in our heads.

JENNIFER STEWART MILLER Miller is the author of A Fox Appears: a biography of a boy in haiku (2015) and her poetry has appeared in DIALOGIST, Green Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, RHINO Poetry, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, and her chapbook The Strangers Burial Ground is forthcoming from Seven Kitchens Press. She holds an MFA from Bennington College’s Writing Seminars.

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