The Air Between the Fingers

Rodin’s Cathedral

Both hands large enough to palm a globe,
each from a different person, fingertip
to fingertip, almost clasped, light entering
the marble bones like skin, and I
think cathedral, not easy like that,
the church, the steeple, the—
muscle and nail and dust,
the muted room burned open
and reentered while gulls like paper
napkins whirl above the city then
down to the blue and green river,
graffiti like black lace on the wall
about to be unclasped, slipped out of,
but like a roof already taken
off—the cloudless sky where the spire
was—and what if you do not draw it
away, fingers in wool pockets bit at, bloodied,
the cuticle around the moon,
individual, the moon gone until
you look up between the flat leaves,
broad and covered with fuzz,
mint and lilac in the nose, the edges
curling inward about to fall or
falling, and that is what you
make, the cathedral and not the other
plaster, the mouth in hell,
lips parted, speaking what you
can’t take back, instead,
here the palm, the place, the air
for something in the mind you can hold that still
could be, even now.

Born in Chicago, Tyler Mills (she/her) is the author of City Scattered (Snowbound Chapbook Award, Tupelo Press 2022), Hawk Parable (Akron Poetry Prize, University of Akron Press 2019), Tongue Lyre (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, Southern Illinois University Press 2013), and co-author with Kendra DeColo of Low Budget Movie (Diode Editions Chapbook Prize, Diode Editions 2021). She is also the author of the memoir The Bomb Cloud (Unbound Edition Press 2024) and the poetry craft book Poetry Studio: Prompts for Poets (University of Akron Press 2024). A poet and essayist, her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New Republic, The Believer, and Poetry, and her essays in AGNI, Brevity, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, and The Rumpus. She lived and taught in New Mexico four years, most recently serving as the Burke Scholar for the Doel Reed Center for the Arts in Taos, NM, and now teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.