Lily Poetry Review: Viable by Chloe Yelena Miller

In Viable Miller has crafted a measured, nuanced and poignant reading experience, using the eccentricities of English & Italian grammar to interrogate and express her journey through miscarriage to “a human / displacing yesterday’s empty space.”   As she moves from incomprehensible loss to cautious joy to debilitating anxiety, setting “muscular infinitives” alongside the tenuousness of the subjunctive, we feel how language does its aching work.    — Ellen Doré Watson, author of pray me stay eager

Viable

Poetry by Chloe Yelena Miller

$16.00

Wasn’t

 Before anyone else knew
 I was pregnant,
  I wasn’t.

 I think of her as female
 (to keep the narrative clear.)

 Stemless cherry blossoms landed whole
 on the sidewalk,
 bright sun flattened the landscape.

Startle
four weeks old

 You startle me. A human
 displacing yesterday’s empty space.

 Some call life a miracle.
 But hilltop gods didn’t glue together dirt,
 olive branches and marble
 with saliva to build you or the others.

 As our apartment door closes,
 your arms push back behind your head;
 hands thump against
 me or the crib, squinting eyes dart.

 That reflex to protect yourself,
 to survive against storms,
 despite other humans.

 My instinct to protect you,
 to remove all inside doors,
 lay shag carpet & hang medieval
 tapestries to muffle sound.
 To nail boards over the windows,
 hold you too tight in my arms
 as we hide under the crib.

Chloe Yelena Miller is a writer and teacher living in Washington,
D.C., with her partner and their child. Miller has an MFA in creative
writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from Smith College.
She teaches writing at the University of Maryland Global Campus,
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Northampton Community College,
and Politics & Prose Bookstore, as well as privately.
Her poetry chapbook Unrest was published by Finishing Line Press
(2013). She is a recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from
the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities (2020). This is her
debut full-length collection.