My Personal Favorite: Chloe Yelena Miller

Chloe Yelena Miller photo by Hans Noel.jpeg

Chloe Yelena Miller

Hi Chloe!

Welcome to the blog, and thank you for answering the question: At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?



Carrying by Chloe Yelena Miller

Slice the avocado around the wide middle
and across again,
until the quarters split.
Drop the pit in the trash,
scoop the flesh with a spoon.

But it’s never that easy.

Should I have pierced four toothpicks
into the sides of the pit, balanced it
halfway in water,
waited for a sprout?

Should I have willed
life by the window sill?

Most miscarriages
aren’t mamma’s fault,
doctors say.
No one says much else.

Silent first trimester:
breast and uterus bulge,
strange hungers.

Slow shrinking after removal.
Night sweats. Repeated dream —
someone calls my name.

I have hope inside of me
is a Greek pregnancy euphemism.

Funnel clouds trace the land
as leaves flip in the wind.

I stand in a basement doorway,
emergency pack on my back.

How do I know when it’s over?

No sirens screamed
when the doctor said
The fetus has no heartbeat.

My legs in a stirrup,
I couldn’t rush to shelter.

To be, such a weak verb.
To howl, to breathe, to linger,
more viable.

To be.
As in, she is, she isn’t.
She was, she wasn’t.

State of being.

Carriage. Someone behind the curtains.
Such magic.

Miscarriage. The undoing.
Avocado pit, dry in the trash.


Chloe Yelana Miller:

I think my answer to the question, “What is my favorite poem in Viable” might change, but for now, it is Carrying. At first, the collection was named after that poem. Later I read Ada Limón’s gorgeous book, The Carrying, and, of course, changed the manuscript’s title. For a longer time, though, the title was Baby Book, which is also the title of composer Lauren Spavelko’s work which uses some poems from the collection. While editing the poem, publisher and editor Eileen Cleary suggested a word be changed to “viable” in the fifth to last stanza and voila!, the manuscript was named.

An early draft of this poem came quickly and is longer than most of the poems. Carrying winds through the experience of learning from the doctor that I had miscarried. I use food, a Greek euphemism for pregnancy, and a storm as three metaphors for what is happening. Maybe that’s too many metaphors for one poem, but since it’s long, hopefully, I get away with it. I like that the poem is framed by an avocado. During an early draft, a friend suggested that no one cuts an avocado the way I do and so, of course, I dug my heels in to leave my strange avocado-cutting approach in the poem as a private joke.




Chloe Yelena Miller is the author of a poetry collection Viable (2021, Lily Poetry Review Books), and a poetry chapbook, Unrest (2013, Finishing Line Press.) She is a recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities (2020.)

Miller teaches writing at the University of Maryland Global Campus and Politics & Prose Bookstore, as well as privately. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from Smith College. Miller lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner and their child. Follow her: or @ChloeYMiller

Carrying was originally published in All We Can Hold: A Collection of Poetry on Motherhood (Sage Hill Press; 2016)



Viable cover .jpg

Viable can be purchased from the press:
or a signed copy from the author
or your favorite independent bookstore, like Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.