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3: Maggie Millner

Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.

2.9

by Maggie Milner

Her job was taking other people’s prose and coaxing
…………. it to coherency. Mine was coaching

young people to translate life experience
…………..to prose. But our own story made no sense

to me and twisted up whenever I tried
………….writing it. On the bus ride

to her building, I listened to Liz Phair,
…………Irma Thomas, and an outfit from Montclair

that she and I both loved, of a genre
…………halfway between emo and Americana,

like the lovechild of Bright Eyes and Loretta Lynn.
…………So much from that time is still so redolent

of nervousness and sex—her sandalwood cologne
…………and reading H.D. on her phone,

and crying in the mezzanine
…………at BAM and on a bench in Fort Greene

Park, and the sticky Ottolenghi cake we made (“no butter”),
…………and juices from an app. Rebecca West. The comforter

we patched to stop it drowning us
…………in goose-down every night. Soylent. Cunnilingus.

Saraghina, before all the Sturm und Drang.
…………The quaver in her voice when she first sang

the song that afterward became
…………the anthem of our romance, named

after a book of letters named after a fervid,
…………almost painful shade of red.


Copyright © 2023 by Maggie Millner. This poem was originally published in her book, Couplets (2023, Macmillan Publishers).


About the Author

Maggie MillnerMaggie Millner is the author of Couplets (forthcoming from FSG in February 2023). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Nation, BOMB, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She is currently a senior editor at The Yale Review and a lecturer in writing at Yale.

Queer Poem a Day graphic

Queer Poem a Day: Lineage Edition


Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this third year of our series is the AIDS Ward Scherzo by Robert Savage, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.

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