I Wait for the Sudden Sunset: Featured Poetry by Tyler Mills

April 22, 2019 | 1 book mentioned

Our series of poetry excerpts continues with a poem by Tyler Mills from her new book, Hawk Parable, a fascinating verse consideration of the atomic age. From test to terror, Mills unfolds the dizzying destruction of a world, cindered and then forgotten. In this poem, laughter precedes the “sudden / sunset,” a pungent “tangerine” unleashed on the landscape. Connie Francis is the soundtrack to yet another test—which, like the others, remains surprising in its violence.

“Declassified Test Film”

They eat close to the surf,
laughing as water un-combs
plum threads
from a surface that flickers
quickly in and out of
sunflowers.

I wait for the sudden
sunset, tangerine, sun-
less as it blooms.
One of the soldiers has a question.
He rubs his nose with his thumb.
Is it that silver

speck up there?
He’s in the cotton white
t-shirt you like to wear.
I fold your sleeves in a mess and press them
to my face—your stink
in the boat

seam of fabric.|
“Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis
drones from a radio speaker, her breath
mingling with the gold-
painted mesh.
They dig their feet in the sand

peaking here and there like buttercream.
Suddenly, the song
stupidly playing
breaks out
of shape, and everyone
flinches

then stares
right at the sky.

“Declassified Test Film,” from Hawk Parable by Tyler Mills. Copyright © 2019 by The University of Akron Press. Published and reprinted by permission of The University of Akron Press.

is a staff writer for The Millions. He has written for Rolling Stone, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, and The Kenyon Review. His newest book is Ember Days, a collection of stories. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and twin daughters. Follow him @nickripatrazone and find more of his writing at www.nickripatrazone.com.

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