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Margot Miller


The journey away from home,
to some unintended place,
can only be witnessed by writing
out the silent lies that take up space,
small fragments of the self,
unspoken hearts, undelivered letters of hope.

It's sufficient to imagine hope,
to take the first steps toward home,
stepping outside the self,
learning courage in every place
we visit, every open space
we inhabit by writing.

Perfection has no place in writing
except as absence; it drains hope
buries itself in an underground space
where there can be no home,
no growing perception of place,
nothing but emptiness beyond the self.

Each of us must choose the self
struggle there, transform it in writing,
in a letter so long it will remain in place
until it becomes a source of hope,
the place we create as home,
inside our own small space.

Language alone builds this space,
clears the charred forest of the self,
replants on the barren hillside a home;
What other path but writing
admits into imagination a sense of hope,
weaves mobility into that place?

Writing home is the act and the place
we write from and to, that ideal space
inside the heart, source of being and hope;
it builds the involuntary muscle of the self;
it pushes toward freedom, and relaxes. Writing
identity into life, we imagrate toward home.

A rumor of hope takes us out to the place
in which we create home, an inner space
of the self to which we bear witness in writing.

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Involuntary muscle
holds no trace,
has no memory

you did not do,
did not imagine,
is gone
leaving no line

leaks into the body,
marks it there,
but the heart has no memory
for poison

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I took a bit of sunshine
in the hollow of my hand
and planted it
throughout the freshness of the wood.
So as not to want
what cannot be forgotten.

I gathered into my palm a bit
of this freshness under the shade of the
scent and touch
so as not to want
what cannot be forgotten

But nothing has helped me.
I still weep for the past
wherever time takes me.

Gisele Prassinos (France)
Translated by Margot Miller
About the Poet

Margot Miller was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, 1972-74. After several years as a counselor and a decade of rearranging plants, furniture, and children's schedules, she earned a Ph.D. in French literature and taught French at the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. She writes fiction and poetry, does translations, and now teaches French women writers at the Academy of Lifelong Learning, Chesapeake Maritime Museum, St. Michael's, Maryland. Her work has appeared in ChickFlicks, Write Side Up, Static Movement, Long Story Short, Subtle Tea, BluePrint Review, Salomé, Moondance, Mosaic Mind, Fringe, The Angler, Steel City Review, and Toasted Cheese, among others.