Devon Miller-Duggan


A Methodology of Wings

This is the right direction.
Go this way. Follow her
without knowing other than
her hair is a tangle down to her knees.
She may be Rapunzel, may be Godiva, may be the desert Magdalen,
may be god, may be the sfumato corners of La Gioconda’s smile.
She goes forward, rising.

Find this (it is there, I swear):
the place where the woman sleeps, dreaming herself
well, waterfall, whirlpool, waterspout. Dreaming herself
weather and weathering, sanction and sanctioning,
cleaving and cleaving.

Each morning she untangles and braids her hair
then winds it scarf-like around her throat.
Each morning she takes up the threads spinning themselves
from her palms’ lifelines, turns to her loom
and weaves wing after wing, cuts each loose
(finger-widths of the braid disorder themselves).
None is white. They float
in layers above where she sleeps and weaves—
tartan, ikat, herati, Celtic knot, millefleur,
counterchange, tessellation, vermicular, tree-of-life.

They are her house, her shelter. Yet
they wait in their floating
for you, for your shoulders, and yours, and yours.
She requires no payment, asks for no death.




Adam & Leaves, or A Little Genesis

Pins and beetles: they know what we are.
Salt and puppets: know what they’re used for.
Cats and bogs: they understand oneness.
Apples and ouches: they believe Newtonian physics.
Rock and toll: both hard to pray.
Wine and hoses: they try to stay apart.
Fathers and puns: delight in embarrassment.
Oil and slaughter: they love each other like dead swans.
Mother and mild: were never meant for the yoke.
Field and scream: they bug each other.
Lock and tree: they hold. 
Needle and dread: they teach.
Thoughts and stares: know what we offer.
Bread and noses: are cut off in spite. 
Tables and bears: tell stories.
Stars and gripes: they explain nothing.
Town and sundry: become suburbs.
Grief and hoe: sunder the ground.
Love and barrage: they shatter buildings.
Duck and clover: protect nothing.
Guns and stutter: speak the same tongue.




In the Waiting Room of the Neurosurgery Unit

Just white walls and ceiling, beige floor and chairs. I was not alone: daughters, two friends. My husband dying of an infection they said had visited every tissue, bone, organ, and settled in an abscess on his spine. They’d told me epidural abscesses were normally death, and he might never walk­ again. I said he’d never been a decent dancer, anyway, signed the papers, all the absolutions and permissions, contracts, and in-cases. They took him through the doors. They opened him.

I dozed, or flew through some door no one could see into a third room. No surgeons or nurses. My husband on the table. Jesus next to him, startled and angry to be found. He laughed, told me to go; said I couldn’t beg. And I swear he was covered, drenched crown-to-scarred-feet in blood—not my husband’s. This one of the ways He always is—drenched in the burn of human blood. I know what the surgeon will say when he comes into the room where my body waited. Who can understand what Incarnation means, having seen how it ravages her God?





Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Neither Prayer, Nor Bird (Finishing Line Press, 2013), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017). She can be reached at