WAYNE MILLER The New American Century


Cataract grown inside the eye

to fill every room, every page
every screen. In the morning

the mind looks out onto a street
blurry with self.


Euclid believed that light rays
emitting from the eye
touch upon the objects of the world.

Aristotle held that rays
emitting from those objects
travel into the eye.

Both these theories attempt to understand
the boundary
between world and mind

where the cataract has bloomed.


Only one eye is cataracted,
the other is clear—

so when the mind reaches out
it reads the overlay

of two images of the same world.
Thus, I can still distinguish

the proximity
of an approaching body, face

fixed in smoke.

Wayne Miller‘s fourth poetry collection, Post- (Milkweed, 2016), won the UNT Rilke Prize and the Colorado Book Award. His co-translation of Moikom Zeqo’s Zodiac (Zephyr, 2015) was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in Translation. Miller’s fifth collection, We the Jury, is forthcoming from Milkweed in early 2021. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and edits Copper Nickel.