Cheese by Chloe Yelena Miller






for L. C.

I want to write you a friendship poem
but it wants clichés:
calls in the middle of the night,
laughs over a late drink.

Instead there’s this cheese.
I ordered it affumicato (smoked) at the market,
felt brava speaking Italian.

But the aproned man cut down a giant,
stagionato (aged) cheese,
hung from the ceiling over a display
for tourists I scooted between
as I played the role of signora.

He sliced the cheese, chunks crumbling to the side.
I asked for only half,
he sighed.

I kept half of the half,
gave you the other quarter wrapped in plastic bags.
Enough for two meals!

You sent me a photo
of you and your husband
as big as the cliché I wanted to write
to ringraziarti
for you.

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, and Politics & Prose Bookstore, as well as privately. Miller is the co-founder of Brown Bag Lit; she teaches and organizes events for them. Contact her and read some of her work at /

Image © 2023 Chloe Yelena Miller

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