Tyler Mills’ poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, and others. She’s published two books and has two chapbooks forthcoming. Mills teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and she edits The Account, an online literary magazine. Look for Tyler Mills’ books in our online catalog or call us at the Reference Desk at Lawson McGhee Library.
Today's poem, "Oak," appeared in the January 2021 issue of Poetry Magazine. You can read the poem on the Poetry Foundation's website or in the links below.
Welcome to The Beat, a poetry podcast produced by Knox County Public Library. Today you’ll hear a poem by the poet and essayist Tyler Mills.
Though all the poems we’ve featured so far were recorded during the pandemic, Mills’ poem “Oak” is our first to directly address some of the issues the Coronavirus has brought us. In the poem, Mills explores the anxiety and sense of loss a lot of us feel when our world is suddenly altered, and our sense of security is taken away from us. Here’s the poem “Oak” by Tyler Mills.
How do you describe the emptiness above
the shingle & tar & threads
of power lines, the bark dabbed in with lichen,
the capillary beds
of branches—bronchioles—more blue
between them now? Though rain will come
late afternoon, drumming into my child’s nap
(water running, she’ll wake dreaming), for now
blank space arcs above me in forget-me-
not petals. Fans in the clouds. The lungs are
the light organ. We float, we float, they say.
No need to cover your lips and noses.
Now you must cover your lips and noses.
Paisley bandanas. Shoelace ear loops.
Faces on screens like shadows in the water.
If you look through
the woods, layers and layers of limbs.
When I kneel underneath
to hold her hand and turn my face
sunward I want to see through
the bark—bluebells and seeds,
grubs twisting into yellow moons.
The tree was going to come down.
That was “Oak” by Tyler Mills, who was kind enough to record this poem for us at her home in Brooklyn, NY. Mills’ poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, and others. She’s published two books and has two chapbooks forthcoming. She’s the recipient of residencies from Yaddo, Ragdale, and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as fellowships from Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Mills teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and she edits The Account, an online literary magazine.
Look for Tyler Mills’ books in our online catalog or call us at the Reference Desk at Lawson McGhee Library. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for “The Beat.”
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