Interior Image

Lillien Waller

Years: 2001


Lillien Waller is a poet and editor of the anthology American Ghost: Poets on Life after Industry (Stockport Flats, 2011), which explores the impact of deindustrialization on community, culture, personal identity and the natural world. Waller holds a MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, as well as degrees from University of Michigan, the New School for Social Research and Emory University. Her poems have appeared most recently in Guernica and New Orleans Review, among others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. In 2015, she was awarded a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.




— after Edmund de Waal


Small white vessel cradled

in my hand, the palm and fingers undulate,

mull it over, become lingual. I say:


this is how we know we are not alone,


that first plosive moment

of contact, the object’s insistence

on pushing back as I cup each warp and puck, roll

each dent like words.


We try to transcend the body,


make flesh of abstractions

when, finally, we yield

to the body’s rough appeal — hold

what begs to be held.