Andrew Miller Empty Vigil

I think of that hill top where men

Nauseated from hardtack and cold

Watched ten years for the signal

That meant the end of topless Troy,

How days and nights they stared

To the next mountain, then to the next.


Not once, do the stories relate,

How those men mistook one light

For another. Never did a brush fire

Or a shepherd’s torch ignite in them

The thought that all was done

Before all was done in the distance.


But I cannot believe this. Night

After night, like a wish or angst

That walked their hearts the way

The lynx stalked the edges of their camps,

The fear and need and hope and urge

To light the fire smoldered in them all.


Until they first failed to resist it

And lit it, then had to douse it,

Until they did that same thing again,

Until they fought among themselves

About the nature of fire itself

Until dawn became bland and mute.


They never had sons or daughters.

Staring themselves blind up there,

They left the cliffs as I will leave

The six-story tall streets of this town:

With only the weariness and tears

That frays new things to the bone.


And their poems? So much time

And nothing but their voices to rub

Against the wind. They wrote them

About love and the fear of blindness,

Anticipation of failure and peace:

The tragedy that never happened.


Back to 49.1