These days she plays 
the piano like a weapon—
she’ll say it’s a burden,

this cumbersome instrument; she feels 
like she carries it around 
on her shoulders, the weight of wrong

notes, accidentals and pedalling. 
On weekdays, he pores over papers 
in the archives, and she’ll hammer

at the keys till they gather
some coherence, an atonal 
clamour of shining noise. He’s grasping

at threads of past, their passing, 
and she’s trying 
to create, to conceive

a newness—

but there’s no polite way 
to end this predicament:

last to the impasse 

Alice Miller grew up in Mahina Bay, Eastbourne. She currently lives in Iowa City, where she attends the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Alice was the 2006-2007 Glenn SchaefferFellow, and she will complete her MFA in poetry in May 2008. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in ZolandKaupapa: New Zealand poets, world issuesNotnostrumsTurbine; and Sport.

Miller comments: ‘This is an older poem, but my poetry continues to hammer at the keys, to race itself, and throw itself up against the impasse.’

Poem source details >



Turbine 2005