Chloe Yelena Miller


Rome, 2022

Pandemic height, we traveled to the bathroom. Our child pointed towards the toilet paper, scrubber. Selfies with two fingers up, tile walls behind our get closer! smiles. 

In Italy after three years, he doesn’t want to be tourists. I just want to live here.

The airport taxi drove past a repeated billboard with a coffin advertising funeral services, later the Wedding Cake and tourists holding umbrellas to hide from the sun. I remembered my American aunt speaking an Italian dialect; how I helped care for her aging body. 

I taste the smokiness in my coffee. Would my aunt have liked this coffee that isn’t Folger’s drip coffee from a giant tin in her cupboard? She measured the scoops with a spoon. I hum the jingle in the country her mother left and never returned to. Where she last saw her mother. The line of women leaving while staying. 

The morning sun lifts the yellow ocher painted on the Eritrean embassy walls across the street from our rented apartment. Sunlight can change shift weight, density. This morning, the raised stones carved with shadows extend over the street. Our apartment’s walls decorated with Arabic script honoring Allah in circles, squares and ovals. The far and near of this diorama in which we unpacked our pants, allergy medicine, blank notebooks. 

We find life in this light, language, 

the moka I use for coffee.

The boys sleep and light paints ribbons across the leaves on the balcony. What will we say to each other today? Will we remember to look both near and far?  

Chloe Yelena Miller’s poetry collection, Viable, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books (2021) and her poetry chapbook, Unrest, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). Miller is a recipient of a 2020 and 2022 DC Arts and Humanities Fellowship (Individuals) grant. She teaches writing at American University, University of Maryland Global Campus and Politics & Prose Bookstore, as well as privately. Contact her and read some of her work at /