--Black Hand Gorge, Central Ohio

You left your clothes on a table rock
jutting into the Licking River.
At first glance they looked like a man
as old skins look like snakes
that sloughed them.
                 There they lay
baggy-mounded, hushed and sightless,
wearing your smell, with flecks of dandruff
under the collar. They divulged your dirt,
the imprint of your buttocks,
but not who you were. Or went.

Given time enough, a seamstress
or detective could determine that.
Meanwhile, they weren’t in any hurry—
limp, left open, full of buttons,
stitchings and smudges, they just lay there
basking in the sun.

Though born in Ohio (1933), John N. Miller grew up in Hawai'i (1937-1951). He retired in 1997 from teaching literature and writing at his undergraduate alma mater, Denison University, and now lives with his wife Ilse in a retirement community in Lexington, VA.