This week we’re proud to feature “The Perfect Gift,” a previously unpublished poem by James Thomas Miller. Miller is from Indianola, Mississippi. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Blackbird and various other journals. He received his MFA from SIU-Carbondale and is almost done with his PhD in Creative Writing at Georgia State University.
“The Perfect Gift” is kind of bastardized epithalamium. A woman I used to date and was still in love with called and told me she was getting married to her new boyfriend, so I asked what I could get her for her wedding present. She asked for a poem.
The Perfect Gift
What do you buy for those cypress-still afternoons
when her neck chromes with sweat and she nurses
a plastic cup of scotch as “I’ll Come Running”
melts across the honey-thick light of her porch
like a tongueful of wet vicodin? Gift certificates?
A silver chafing dish inscribed Don’t Forget That
Squirrel-hearted Boy You Kissed in the Delta?
Where can I find 300-count sheets that smell
like Club Ebony closing— catfish grease, plywood,
spilt 7 & 7? Can they be woven from that gin lint
caught on the police station’s razor-curl of concertina?
Who’ll engrave her bare hips in pearl or tell me
not to slow down as I pass an amber-haired girl
jogging along Indian Bayou and check for a ruby-peck
of mole above her lips as she turns and says
Stunned lover, who’s ever sure what I wanted?