Jasper Johns, Map (Jessica Epstein)


A ruddy face, a wealth of curly
Gray hair, her eyes a turquoise ocean
Advancing into me—“Learn what adaptable
Means,” she said, and I recognized
Miss Sweeney, principal,
Instructing me in a dream.
Forgotten through my calendar of years
She appeared, brandishing
Her word of the month:
Adaptable, written in bold green
Letters on posters in the halls.
Dear Miss Sweeney, you were telling me
To adapt to fear, to blindness, death,
The trinity looming over my old age.
I woke from my dream,
Adaptable, to begin the day.

Michael Miller’s recent book is Asking the Names, published by Ashland Poetry Press. His poems have appeared widely in such places as the Yale Review, the Kenyon Review, Raritan, and the Sewanee Review.

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Published in the January 25, 2019 issue: View Contents
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