The young bride drunk on champagne and reefer
singes both eyebrows a delicate gray
bending too near our beach fire,
a bent Winston held in her lips.
The groom’s passed out in a nearby hotel,
shuttered light from its TV ray
risen around him like swamp gas. He dreams
of Chinook salmon nosing upstream
to spawn in the freezing gravel. The girl
keeps huddling close to my wife,
sweater unraveling, crossed shoelaces
packed with wet sand and mud.
Deep space opens over the beach,
quarks and novas, meteors, comets
above the black threshold raging behind her
foaming along the rocks.
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.