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By Josephine Miles

All our roads go nowhere.

Maps are curled

To keep the pavement definitely

On the world.


All our footsteps, set to make

Metric advance,

Lapse into arcs in deference

To circumstance.


All our journeys nearing Space

Skirt it with care,

Shying at the distances

Present in air.


Blithely travel-stained and worn,

Erect and sure,

All our travels go forth,

Making down the roads of Earth

Endless detour.


Josephine Miles, “On Inhabiting an Orange” from Collected Poems. Copyright � 1983 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Illinois Press.

Source: Collected Poems 1930-83 (1983)

Poet Bio

Josephine Miles was born in Chicago but spent most of her life in California. She developed rheumatoid arthritis at a young age and was often confined to a wheelchair, which she claimed allowed her time to write. Not only a skilled poet, Miles was also a brilliant scholar; she spent her career teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and was the first woman to earn tenure in the English Department.

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