This week’s poem was written in response to a triptych in the Portland Museum of Art’s permanent collection, Murray Hantman’s “Kylum.” The poet, Douglas W. Milliken, describes it as “three enormous panels of pastel color field.” But we don’t need to know the painting to appreciate Milliken’s conversational yet hypnotic meditation on vision and time. I love how the wry humor of the opening lines opens up into a speculation on the location of the future, then finally into a gorgeous summer image of time at its most expansive and omnipresent.

Milliken is the author of the novels “To Sleep as Animals” and “Our Shadows’ Voice,” the collection “Blue of the World,” four chapbooks and several multidisciplinary collaborations, most recently “[STORAGE]” with the Bare Portland theater collective. His honors include prizes from the Pushcart Foundation, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, Glimmer Trai, and RA & Pin Drop Studios. He lives with his domestic and creative partner, Genevieve Johnson, in the industrial riverscape of Saco.

 

Waiting for Tampopo

By Douglas W. Milliken

after Murray Hantman’s “Kylum”

 

Object permanence is a drag.

The dilation of pupils is a drag.

The smug audacity of unbroken

lines

is a drag.

 

But where was I reading that

since we can’t see it, the future

must be behind us—hidden

just over our shoulder—not

unfurling

up front?

 

Obviously, it’s the past that’s ahead

of us,

right?

 

Like

riding the bed

of a farm truck in June,

back rested against

the cab as the green

and the dust coalesce then blur,

showing off everywhere you’ve just

been

while you were so busy watching

the lineless cataract

of sky.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Waiting for Tampopo” copyright 2017 by Douglas W. Milliken. It appears by permission of the author.


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