“The Millstones” by Anthony Robbins

Cairn painted on a pyramid of smaller canvases connected by various red threads.
Sindura II, Catherine Eaton Skinner

for Joe, Mark, Angela, and Bridgette

They taught us as they taught themselves
or were taught from the beginning
by example the improvised arts and sciences
of abandonment.  She married to escape
her mother and her brother.  He joined the Navy to get away
from her.  We moved four times before
we were six.  He was a moonshine runner
before he decamped, turned tail, for thirty
years, but before that, you remember, one day we came home
from school, found the car loaded, and she took
us away from there for good, with no warning.
During her second act of matrimony we were
spirited from our beds thirteen times,
yes, we had to count because without
numbers there seemed to be nothing.
Why, boarding ships, do we look first for the life boats,
in hotels and planes the exits,
in restaurants the bathrooms and backdoors, in kitchens the knives,
in cars find the door locks, always,
jaywalks, shortcuts, key stashes,
loopholes in leases, hiding places?
This is a sigh of thanksgiving, that they brought
us along with and without them, showing
never why but how, feeling a cold draft
of dissatisfaction, to deal, to cut
and run, and though at times we have been doggedly
adamant when we should have quit,
the long rote lesson comes back at an appropriate
point.  You,  Sham  Abram, and you,  Miss Runagate,
Check out.  Again.  For good.  That’s right.


Anthony Robbins was born in Statesville, NC. A former Fulbright Scholar (lecturing: Belize & College of the Bahamas, Nassau) & NEA Creative Writing grantee, he lives now in Chapel Hill, NC, and works as an interviewer of post-prostate-surgery patients in the Carolina Survey Research Lab, Dept. of Biostatistics, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Catherine Eaton Skinner illuminates the balance of opposites, reflecting mankind’s attempts at connection. Her work has been published in Magazine 43, Art Hole, MVIBE, LandEscape Art Review, Art Magazineium and her monograph 108 (Radius Books). She has upcoming exhibitions in the Hockaday and the Las Cruces Museums, and has previously shown work in the Wilding, Cape Cod, Yellowstone Art and High Desert Museums. She is a New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Acclaimed Artist and has had work in embassies in Papua New Guinea and Tokyo.

If you purchase a book through the above Bookshop.org affiliate links, we receive a small percentage of the cost