Chloe Yelena Miller

Italian Vocabulary: Intimissimi

            Adjective: So intimate 

In a Trastevere church,
I balance a thin candle above another’s flame,
lower the bottom between the metal netting
until it is trapped into balance,
hovering stone Mary silent.

What will they do with the candle stubs tonight?
These handwritten wishes?

Twenty years ago, in Italy,
you sounded out the store name In-ti-mis-si-mi.
Intimissimi, Intimissimi, IntimissimiIntimissimiIntimissimi!,

laughter as repetition drowned meaning.

You desired
to be seen, known. Will you be
in death?
I took a selfie with a celebrity today.
Thought of you, your desire
for bright, lit fame,
and how we stopped talking over

what, really?

I light candles,
Repeat Intimissimi until we are again in our platonic love.


My wish, this clatter
of coins in the collection box.


My child’s night shadow on the Pantheon lengthens
into the passato remoto,
the distant past.
One without our many lights
along the street, blinking from cars and motorini
speeding over the bumps.

The past of relatives further south, dead for so long
that their bones were transferred, maybe by hand,
maybe with or without ceremony,
from their burial place
into a well in the middle of the walled cemetery.
The relatives who couldn’t –
or maybe rather didn’t –
travel across the mountains to Naples’ port
and across the ocean in the rounded bottom
of a ship to what became the home of
those who did leave.

Whose descendants we visit
in their town built into the side of the mountain,
walls straight, roads steep.
The dialect here relies on the plural second person,
voi. As in, all of you.

Even us.

Chloe Yelena Miller’s poetry collection, Viable, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books (2021) and her poetry chapbook, Unrest, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). Miller is a recipient of a 2020 and 2022 DC Arts and Humanities Fellowship (Individuals) grant. She teaches writing at American University, University of Maryland Global Campus and Politics & Prose Bookstore, as well as privately. Contact her and read some of her work at /