Wanda Waldera © 2014 All Rights Reserved


As clouds scuttle across the hardwood floor,
I contemplate exits by fire and flood,
having risen too high to jump without breaking.

How will I find the friend within the enemy within?
I lose my way, look askance, admit my terror
of the fête d’adieu. Dazzle and repeat.

My father bequeathed me his golden chopsticks.
What more could I need? Overwhelm fixes me in bed,
bereft of the memory of my exit strategy.

If you don’t believe in the afterlife, what do you
attune to, my enemy, my friend? Turned over,
the leaf of despair can resurrect a life.

Rinse and repeat. I’ll tell you what drives me
through the looking glass. Neotropical,
the epiphyte absorbs what it needs through air.

Don’t wait for me to emerge from the bark
of the Sequoia. I admit I’ve slept with the enemy
every night of my life. See what love comes to?

Seriously, I’m more afraid of shame
than of the afterlife. In my next life, love reciprocates.
Repeat the tender part, the lick and caress.

I expect nothing in return for feeding the birds,
but I want you to take seriously my next exit.
Take it from either side of the leaf.

Carol Westberg
Copyright © 2014  

Carol Westberg’s collection Slipstream, was a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry, and “Map of Uncertain Soundings” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Prize. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, North American Review, CALYX, and other journals.

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