A Memoir in Poems

Iris Miller

From the book:


We’re fishing for flounder

in Scituate harbor when I pull up

a sculpin, causing Uncle Sid to curse

while smashing the creature repeatedly

with a wooden club that’s been rolling

around in the rowboat – sculpin

thrashing, club rebounding off its slimy

sides, briny water spraying in every

direction. My uncle’s bald head flushes

red. The fish seems indestructible.

Its jaws jut, its eyes bulge, horny warts

cover its body like armor, this dragon

lured from the depths

by one little girl, and a middle-aged

man who is trying to slay it. No good

for eating, he mutters, or even bait.

It steals bait. Nothing but bones inside.

And he does slay it. The popped-out

eyes glaze over, the jaw goes slack,

all its bristling projections seem

to lose their thrust, blood fills

its mouth, it lies still at last. Then,

assured that the fish is

dead, will not take the hook again,

he throws it overboard, where it floats.

I see the spiky feelers, the spines

sharp as needles fanning through its fins,  

and know he’s killed it for being ugly.


A native New Englander, Iris Miller has lived most of her adult life in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Summers find her on Monhegan Island in Maine, where she writes in a community of poets. She has explored imagery as art teacher to city children, visual artist, clinical art therapist, practitioner of shamanic healing, and in recent years, through poetry. As Patricia Ann Lothrop she grew up in Reading,  Massachusetts, and received degrees from Middlebury College and Cornell University. Her work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, and in a chapbook, Angels Flying Backwards.


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