For Annie

You bring the sausage and lentil soup
to the long couch
where I’m watching baseball
the night after the famous poet
commits suicide in New York,
black cushions upholstered
by a recovering addict
who left for the city
as soon as we paid him.
You wash the clothes,
the Levi’s and socks, though they’re
soon grimed with sweat, wash
the dust from the lilacs
thirsty and stressed,
the Dog Star staring straight
down in our yard. Someone
may drop by for a visit,
you tell me, knowing I’m not
the most genial host, my feet
splayed out on the windowsill,
shirt and shoes piled in the corner.
There’s a song women sing
you know all the words to,
to make a child stop crying and sleep,
a song to make a grown man forget.

About Joseph Millar:
Joseph Millar’s first collection, Overtime, published by Eastern Washington University Press in 2001, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Millar grew up in Pennsylvania and took an MA from Johns Hopkins in 1970. It would be two decades before he returned to poetry. His work has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Oregon Literary Arts. In 1997, he gave up his job as telephone installation foreman and moved to western Oregon, where he teaches at Oregon State University and in Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program.