MaryAnn Miller

Involuntary Recumbency


On I-78 returning from
a crisis intervention conference,
my foot freezes to the pedal,
torso slumps. Eighteen-wheeler
behind me, I lift my right leg with both hands,
brake, gliding off to the exit ramp.


Myotonic goats make good pets
because their fences need only six inches.
Clap your hands to surprise them,
they will seize and slam the ground
in a spontaneous episode.
Dan Rather found them entertaining.
Lucia Perillo says they teach us to rise.


Driving to the new Barnes my muscles seize.
Like the traffic around me on I-95 I am stuck,
right foot spared, in motion from gas to brake,
the ghost in the machine, the silent center
quietly cursing.


Limping past the reflecting pool
I find Courbet’s Woman with White Stockings.
She leans back to roll the stocking onto her right foot,
her left leg already covered, gartered,
shod in a red slipper,
graceful sole bracing the ground.
Dark dimple of a vagina
between pale fruit buttocks,
hint of inside revealed.
Her eyes hold kind recognition.
She will rise,
continue dressing.

MaryAnn L. Miller is the author of Cures for Hysteria (Finishing Line Press 2018) and Locus Mentis (PS Books 2012.) She has been thrice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry, book reviews, or essays have appeared in Mom Egg Review, Wild River Review, Presence Journal, Ovanque Siamo, Stillwater Review, Wordgathering, Kaleidoscope, Passager, Journal of NJ Poets, and The International Review of African American Art and is forthcoming in the Aunt Flo anthology and the Writer’s Resist Anthology. Miller is the poetry coordinator for the NJ Book Arts Symposium. Also a visual artist, she publishes hand-bound artist books through her press

She has Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis.

As a visual artist, Miller has held residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Universidad Metropolitana Autonomia, Mexico City, University of Costa Rica, and the Ragdale Foundation. She was the resident book artist at the Experimental Printmaking Institute, Lafayette College, from 2001–2016. She is represented by Raven Fine Art Editions. Her artist books are in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Special Collections at Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore, University of Iowa, Herron Art Library, Wesleyan University, Skillman Library, Lafayette College, Rutgers University, Yale, and Stanford University.

“Involuntary Recumbency” previously appeared in Wordgathering and Cures for Hysteria in a different form.