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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 16, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Mind-Body Problem’ is a love poem that considers how philosophical abstractions become acute and discernibly present in the face of illness and loss.”
—Wayne Miller

Mind-Body Problem

When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
                                        It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
almost mindlessly.
                                  Your mind
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.

But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
                                         The shape
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire

I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.

Copyright © 2016 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller is the author of Post- (Milkweed Editions, 2016) andThe City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011).

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Tonight all the leaves are paper spoons
in a broth of wind. Last week
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The houses have swallowed their colors,
and each car moves in the blind sack
of its sound like the slipping of water.

Flowing means falling very slowly—
the river passing under the tracks,
the tracks
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It was a desire to jump narratives—

to find himself suddenly
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in the distant hills. To find
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conveying him forward

had altered its tone. The self
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Phones were ringing

in the pockets of the living
and the dead

the living stepped carefully among.
The whole still room

was lit with sound—like a switchboard—
and those who could answer

said hello. Then
it was just the dead, the living

trapped inside their bloody

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