poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 1, 2017.
About this Poem 

“When I was writing this poem, I was exploring the sentence and how it can move. I was also thinking about my grandmother’s zinnias. Zinnias were among the first flowers to bloom in space, on the International Space Station.”
—Tyler Mills

Zinnias

My father’s mother grew a garden of zinnias
to divide the house from the woods:

pop art tops in every color—cream,
peach, royal purple, and even envy

(white-green, I knew, and when the pale
petals opened in early August,

I thought they’d blush like an heirloom
tomato, heir-loom, how strings of wine-dyed

wool lay over the frame of an idea,
how my cheeks look in the mirror

after a run, always the wrong
time of day, thunder rolling around the stadium

of trees, or the sun striking the boughs
with light over and over as though to plead

the green right out of the leaves,
or so it seems to me,

too sensitive, she would say, her love
scientific)—the sunburst petals

a full spectrum except for the sea
returning to you, blue, blue,

the color appearing in language only
when we could know it like a cluster of stars

in the arms of another galaxy
while ours spirals around a black hole,

and now they grow in space, in the satellite
where we live out an idea of permanence

among galactic debris, acquiring stars,
losing vision, the skin touching nothing,

the heads little suns you watch die
on the stem if you want the bloom back.

Copyright © 2017 by Tyler Mills. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Tyler Mills. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013). 

by this poet

poem

I was going to write about a crescent
of honeydew melon. An artist told me

she paints grids when she isn’t
certain how to begin. A grid of steel

stores nuclear fuel below the surface
of pools in temporary rooms

with red railings. I glanced at one image,
then checked my email,

poem

I thought I would write a novel
about the window with its shadow
set in the two-story house.
Cézanne stands at the sunchoke hedge,
alone and licking a brush
among the tree’s traces of changing shade.
The woman—I named her
and almost saw her—could be
flapping a pillowcase at

2