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Image by Darran Shen


the madrigal, volume ii

My Grandfather's Rugged Edition of Les Miserables

by matthew miller

He curls his stethoscope's black cords

along the book's splitting spine.

Holy scripture, the lone pages

more finger-smudged and careworn.

He pulls surgical tape from his bag,

measures down the breaking line

and like Grandma's embroidering,

he stitches up what was torn.

Early mornings, he's read Romans

and the Gazette's first two folds.

Opening the newly bandaged

cover, he sees his name scrawled

in the upper right hand corner,

licks his forefinger and scrolls

lines of criminal compassion;

reminding him to what he's called.


My son handcrafted a bird nest,

newspaper shredded and glued

to a dark blue canvas. It masks

the novels of my top shelf.

Grandpa's favorite cornerstones

the collection, still unmoved

since I slipped it from his Alzheimer's

ward, just to remind myself

of how he lived. When I dust, frayed

strings of its unweaving cover

snag in the feathers. Moving my

son’s minute-made art, I hold

his old book. Feel its thousand page weight,

like hymns sung at grandfather’s

funeral. His gift, like silver

candlesticks, light to behold.

Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry - all hoping to create home. He and his wife live beside a dilapidating orchard in Indiana, where he tries to shape dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been featured in Whale Road Review, River Mouth Review, Club Plum Journal and Ekstasis Magazine.

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