James Miller

Red Letter

Hawkins, Louis Welden, Solitude, c.1890
Solitude by Louis Welden Hawkins

My grandmother’s red-letter Bible:
I imagined cutting out every marked word,
leaving a lattice of oblong blanks.
So that an uncontracted breath
could trace its way out.
The holly growing in her garden:
I would pluck a dozen spiked leaves,
array them in a circle, then lay four fat berries
in the charmed center.
I made up pagan words
and sang them thin, then kicked
my altar under the bush.


About the writer:
James Miller won the Connecticut Poet Award in 2020. His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lullwater Review, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Juked, Meat for Tea, Main Street Rag, Plainsongs, The Atlanta Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rogue Agent, Sweet Tree Review, Thin Air, The Inflectionist Review and elsewhere.

Image: Solitude by Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910). Oil on canvas. 57 x 26.5 cm. Circa 1890. Public domain.