Miriam O’Neal‘s work has appeared in AGNI, Blackbird Journal, Lily Poetry Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. The Body Dialogues (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2020), was nominated for a Massachusetts Center for the Book Award. She also is a 2019 Pushcart nominee and was a finalist for the 2019 Disquiet International Poetry Prize. A portion of her translation of Italian poet, Alda Merini’s, Rose Volanti appeared in On The Seawall, in Fall of 2019. Her newest collection, The Half-Said Things, will be out from Nixes Mate Books in April 2022.
A Brief History of the Letter R in October
The Normans liked me pent-
ultimate― languorous behind the swelled b,
that little eh tripping off my bridge of vibrations
shaking the tongue out of its complacency.
Oh, I counted then; a season’s marrow in my sound;
deer, harvest, fresh straw for the beds,
butcher, reaper, heavy crocks of mead―
Then the Saxons captured me and stripped me;
threshed and chased me out beyond that suckling e,
from where I curved under—stinging burr,
final furl of sound.
And nothing beyond me
but the numbered day,
the round red moon, her dwindling haunch,
another year tumbling down a burn.
On the day you were born,
the doctor said the mother must,
accept the needle in her spine.
Eighteen and too late
to go back, I found my way
in the narcotic dark.
to you, swimming the new edge
born between us, my milk-hard
breasts calling your name.