Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2014    fiction    all issues


Anne Rankin-Kotchek
Letter to the World
from a Dying Woman
& other poems

Sara Graybeal
Ghetto City
& other poems

Tee Iseminger
& other poems

Lisa Beth Fulgham
After They Sold the Cows...
& other poems

Mary Mills
The Practical Knowledge
of Women
& other poems

Monika Cassel
Waldschatten, Muttersprache
& other poems

Michael Fleming
To a Fighter
& other poems

Daniel Stewart
& other poems

John Glowney
& other poems

Hannah Callahan
The Ptarmigan Suite
& other poems

Lee Kisling
How the Music Came
to My Father
& other poems

Jose A. Alcantara
Finding the God Particle
& other poems

David A. Bart
Veteran’s Park
& other poems

Greg Grummer
War Reportage
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

J. K. Kitchen
Anger Kills Himself
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
The Man Who Wished
He Was Lego
& other poems

Jessica M. Lockhart
Scylla of the Alabama
& other poems

James P. Leveque
Three Films of Jean Painlevé
& other poems

Kelsey Charles
& other poems

Therese L. Broderick
& other poems

Lane Falcon
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Bird
& other poems

Phoebe Reeves
Every Petal
& other poems

David Livingstone Fore
Eternity is a very long time...
& other poems

Tim Hawkins
Northern Idyll
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
On the Pillow Where You Lie
& other poems

Joey DeSantis
Baby Names
& other poems

Cameron Price
Every Morning
& other poems

David Walker
Sestina for Housesitting
& other poems

Helen R. Peterson
& other poems

Mary Mills

The Practical Knowledge of Women

A pragmatist

to all appearances, my father

has spent his life

with steel and fire

but again brings out the little bird

and trusts her to her mate,

her life the size of a wine cork

and fragile as apple blossom.

“He misses her,” he explains,

and it is I

with my supposedly impractical education

who can see the mistake.

She spends a week or so

in the larger cage,

sleeping beside him

on a spindly branch

and it convinces my father,

but not me.

It is The Practical Knowledge of Women:

the man who will pluck a feather

will pick your wings bare,

and he who will nearly kill you

will kill you, eventually.

My father believes in love.

So do I, but I also believe

in the bone-cold January days

I spent in an old farmhouse

away from a sharp beak.

I believe in many things

that only look like love

from odd angles, that cannot be

proven beyond any shadows,

but speak the lack.

I believe

in the bare places

where feathers

have never

grown back


My mother could make me eat peas,

but not chew them.

I must have swallowed a gallon

whole like medication,

her motives

vitamins dipped in gall.

Later, she could make me tell her

events, but not how I felt.

I’d hold crushes or despair in my mouth

for hours until I could excuse myself

to the cold altar of the bathroom,

offer up the green

flesh of my teenage heart

to an empty room.

Even now, she tiptoes

around perceived scorn,

recoils from the black pits

of old fires

as if the specter of their heat

still frightens her, as if

they might reignite


and swallow her


Earth from Space

I love best alone,

our apartment

at the bottom of the hill a sunken glow.

There’s our life,

I want to say (but don’t). We watch the glass door,

waiting to see

ourselves walk by, inside,

astronauts watching Earth from space.

It reminds me of you

last winter, on skates—

how I expected your clumsiness,

but you glided away. How you looked

from the long end of the rink:

oblivious, distant, whole in a way

that crushed my ribs like paper.

I’m never

this close up close, I didn’t want to say.


Pushed off

like a swimmer from a pool wall

deep into a cold ripple

of burned pearls.

Our flying dollhouse.

I pretend to read

but how?

the lush whirl of earth, below;

my eyes drag back

like dogs pulling leashes,

resentful of my insistence

on the banal.

my god, I think, listening

for the silence

that coats the world,

but the engines

bored as cattle

lumber on. My open book

tells its story

to the wall.

Mary Mills is a recent graduate of King University in Bristol, TN. She lives in Virginia, in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains, with her husband and their four birds. Her work has appeared in Shot Glass Journal, Four and Twenty, and The Clinch Mountain Review.

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