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By Jack Miller

Only in the Mysteries room would
	you show me what you’d hidden,
slyly pulling from beneath your shirt
	those strawberries from my visit 
		that we’d left on the shelf, untasted;

and while this library allows eating
	in certain designated areas, it was
only in the basement of Mysteries
	(with its lack of windows and single
		point of entry) that you’d let me

taste them the way they deserved,
	their savor as puzzle-box to be
unlocked through the manipulation
	of subtle pressures, the sliding
		of secret panels, the utterance

of magic words that vibrate on the lips.
	Riddles flanked us, outnumbering;
crowded shelves of them, voyeurs
	spying from between their covers
		as we checked again to be certain

we were alone with those Mysteries
	who mourned so salaciously the
imminent demise of their sibling,
	the conundrum of the flavor of
		those strawberries across whose

dimpled firmness I would run an
	inquisitive finger, wondering at
their hue, their summery fragrance.
	And when I dared to close my lips
		around them, spilled their secrets

across my mouth, I heard their
	wisdom in an ancient tongue.
There is a town in France known
	for its pepper, said to be a perfect
		complement to les fraises;

surely its name sits somewhere
	on these shelves, another Mystery
to be solved.  But I will remember
	le poivre, its subtle complexities
		that lingered so long after

my question had been answered,
	and how I exalted at having stolen
the idea of that flavor, smuggled it past
	the front doors into the rain, fruit
		of such a simple, but illicit, act.
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About Jack Miller

Jack Miller lives and writes near Boston, where he sword-fights with his daughter and dates a rock star. Though he is uncertain what an MFA is and is pretty sure "academia" is a kind of tropical nut, his poetry has appeared in several print journals, including Sugar House Review, RHINO, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. Recently he won the second place Vallum Award for Poetry, nearly two decades after winning the second place Robert Boit Manuscript Prize. This is the first time he's ever taken first place for anything, so he may consequently spend the prize money on a tiara. If he does, photos will surface at

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