about the author

Nora Claire Miller is a senior at Hampshire College concentrating in poetry and archival studies. Nora’s work has appeared in H.O.W. Journal and is forthcoming in SiDEKiCK LIT and Eunoia Review.

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Nora Claire Miller

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Algae doesn’t look like
that, you said, about my fish tank.
It wasn’t the fish that was rotting,
it was the water around the fish.

I’m scared, you told me
with a copper voice.

* * *

The doctor called it therapeutic
hypothermia. The doctor called it
brain swelling. I call it like I see it.

* * *

Blue robes. I wished you would
die faster.

* * *

You tried to teach me how to trade stocks.
This is how you get out of your parents’ house, you said.

Everything was very certain for you.

I’m a heroin addict, you told me confidently
the second time we ever spoke.

* * *

If your body had been a room where you could live, and loneliness was coffee that grew back inside a cup, then, I think, you would not have needed me.

* * *

When an organ is donated, it is transported in a cooler, sort of like bringing beer from your apartment to a baseball game. Your apartment doesn’t need the beer anymore because you’re moving away. The baseball stadium is hot in the August sun, and very thirsty.

When a body is divided into its component parts, there is still a unifying “you”. These are your eyes in the cooler, this is your iced spleen, et cetera. In this way, you stay alive so long as you are split.

* * *

In my dream, you’re Harry Potter.
You’re squaring up to face Lord Voldemort.
When you go to the forest to die, I tell you,
you aren’t really supposed to die.

* * *

I cannot pinpoint it exactly: I called until I didn’t.
Don’t feel guilty, someone said to me. Everyone gets busy, someone said.
I wasn’t busy. In the hospital I wore the paper gown
over my clothes. I knew this day would come and didn’t stop it.

* * *

In one dream, you smile at me like you always smile at me, your mouth two guys carrying a couch, one of them lazy or weak, the other one straining under the weight.

* * *

The fourth pew back,
the sky a mess of corners,
I mourned the orange lighter.

* * *

“Belly up” does not describe the careful gesture of a dying fish. The letter “u” sounds buoyant, the anapest sing-song.

Everything, even dying, can be measured. On Coney Island beach, the garbage makes small islands. My foot gets caught in a plastic bag, it happens twice. If people could feel a cancer, though, ad infinitum. Your first heart attack came at twenty-four. I’m scared, you said to me. You really said that.

* * *

On a street corner, a certain slice of light:
you sat on the stoop where I
was reading. You asked for a cigarette
or a light.

In a movie, we would have met like this.

But I don’t know if this happened.
I don’t know how we met.

* * *

Your parents found you on the couch. I am trying to imagine the evening sun crawling over your face; your eyes plugged with gunk, your slowing breath, asleep or maybe more.

* * *

In rehab for the half a dozenth time,
you said: I am finally free. You said it again: finally.

* * *

We are going to Jupiter. It’s a long way up, but the hypobaric tube has great acoustics. You are singing “Fly Me To The Moon” in a silly voice. You are so annoying, even in my dream.

Stop singing that, I say.

When we get to Jupiter the alien captain rushes out to meet us. We get to wear gold hats, play gold guitars. The air is old, metallic. During the initiation ceremony, we sit in the fourth row. You elbow me in the ribs.

This is what spring is like on Jupiter, you say.

You won’t stop laughing.

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