NANCY LYNÉE WOO
The Rusty Toque | Issue 11 | Poetry | November 30, 2016
TESTING THE FOREST'S EDGE WITH A FIXED BLADE
Come back from the dark leave of the forest,
they say. We need you here. Your light.
But how, I ask, wind turbulence and nearly
swinging, can I return when there is no sweetness,
only the mythology of honey? You don’t understand,
my light is out, has always flickered. That’s why
I’m here, counting all the ways pain makes a person
cruel. I’ve given up the search for nectar, stubborn,
rotting, sniffing out the best place to rest these ashes.
I may no longer need this body. You don’t understand
how the wrinkled fig fits into my palm, how I endure
crushing. The moon, tiny false slice, inverts into
black hole. I see the blood on the cross, understand
how to make a home of pain. It smells of jasmine
as I lower into the cave. It could be nice to stay here,
soaking in mud, savage decomposition—almost noble.
To be eaten by worms, nearly friendly. They want me back,
but there is no way to find me without having entered,
and those who have stayed, have nothing to offer. I must
either crawl up slowly, weakly, severing vines one by one,
or disappear, and I haven’t decided yet, whether to convince
myself the fruit was worth the ache. I’m counting backwards
the endless number of ways pain makes a person cruel, bound
to the comfort of the thicket. Clutching tightly to the blade.
The mornings are hard but the nights
are interminable. I am of despair. I am light.
I am red wheels and too-furious dancing.
I am moth and I am tired of the dark.
I remember once a hula hoop, and starving.
The stars are too few but on that frozen lake.
Mutilated deer, and turning back, stunned.
The road is long, forested, and I am dying.
You are dying. We are dying and I plead
for it to be different. Like asking a wolf
not to hunt and suckle. I want to rear up
and protect my pups, who are dead.
Could you send me a basket of your favorite
things? I still have the watch, ticking down
the minutes you have not called. I thought
this was all behind us, but was I born blind?
Perhaps have always been hard of hearing,
loud mouth of the void drowning you out.
Call to me, I am here. I am wanting. I still have
this dumb animal hope, stubbornly breeding.
POSTCARD TO MY LOVER DURING HIGH TIDE
At first, today was a wonderful day! The tide was low when I awoke, a good-breathing low. I easily hacked the shadows away, clearing a path to the kitchen. The axe you made slices clean, thank you. But then, I don’t know what happened, I just fell over, into the long shade of the clock, and had to sit down for a moment. Just a moment, no more! A gladness of you rose quickly behind my eyes and almost flooded. I hurried. Put the coffee on, took a call, read a book, made a bath. I had hoped that that would be enough to fill it, but once the house was quiet, they started creeping in again. The ghosts. Moving through me like slime. Yes, they’re here now. More on their way. Bulbous faces, bulging eyes, gaping mouths. Squeezing through the cracks. I pick up your axe and they recede. A picture floats by in a bubble: skeletons exposed on a long banquet table, unfleshed. My aunt eating the eyeballs. The table stretches. Pop. Slow dumping stomach. I put a blanket up over the window but their suckerfish faces keep pushing through the holes in the room, relentless. Slithering like sewage inside me. Baby, can we see each other soon? The room is filling with foam, yellow. My bed is starting to taste salty. I hope this isn’t too much to ask, but can you bring a net for the fish, and some sick bags? The ghosts are starting to spit up. Their goo is getting all over the place. So I have no choice! I swing at them. I had forgotten how heavy the heads are when they plop off. The tail still squirms, terrible squeals. I’ve fired up the grill, I’m sure the whole neighborhood can smell the barbecue by now. Slicing and searing, I’m dripping with lemons. Come over and roast them with me? Until their skins are charred. Could you grab some tartar sauce on your way over, please? I’m beginning to tire. Oh my. There’s plenty, enough for a feast! Please hurry. XOXO
NANCY LYNÉE WOO is a 2015 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow with a forthcoming chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Bearing the Juice of It All. She has been published with NAILED Magazine, Confrontation, Artemis Journal, The Subterranean Quarterly and Cease, Cows, among others. Her first chapbook, Rampant, was published in 2014 with Sadie Girl Press. Often caught cavorting around Long Beach, CA, this poet can also be found at nancylyneewoo.com.