Anna Mills


I've gone for a swim. Shrimp drift like shreds of egg white, mating.
A fly larva tastes buttery, food of the Paiutes.
The shrimp and larvae eat algae, which eat arsenic-breathing bacteria;
life is simple.  Nothing else survives in the water,
which comes from the Sierra, my mountains.  
The snow melts; the streams lick minerals and carry them to the desert.
A ring of hills cups the broth;
the surface cups light.
In the lake and beside it, lava has welled up and erupted,
built black islands and sand-dune craters, and will again.
Here, a bather floats without trying, caught between skies.
Cuts sting, eyes blaze.
Arms and legs drift from the trunk of the body.
The body holds space;
space enters in.

Anna Mills' poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Salmagundi, Cimarron Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Lunarosity, Isotope, and the anthology Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes.  She teaches English at City College of San Francisco and earned her MFA in nonfiction from Bennington College.  She also maintains a blog of book reviews, "Anna Mills on Nature Writing" at



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