after Then She Fell
When I sit before the empty frame I face a man. We are the audience
as the Alices come between us. They lie back against each other like pages,
blue touching blue. The dark-haired one approaches me, intent, almost writhing,
but looks past me, moving like a ribbon and staring off at something unnameable.
In the office, we paint the roses harlot red. The White Rabbit crawls across
cabinets and swings the lamp tick tock, tick tock. He exits and shuts me in,
my cue to leap and yank drawers locked, locked, white rose, white rose—
At his desk, Lewis says, “‘You have split me in two’. . .are you getting this?”
I glance down at my ink sworls and scratches. “Yes,” I say, because I am
loathe to ruin illusions. Before we dress up, the Mad Hatter asks about
my history of analysis. I play my part as if I’m as clean as an apron. “Not all hatters
are mad, you know.” He asks, “How is a writing desk like a raven?” “Feathers,”
I reply, and it is his turn to be silent. Lewis and Alice sway in the stairwell.
She walks the banister and collapses into his arms again and again
like the stumbling of the resolute or the damned. We watch, caught in the steps,
in a threshold interlude we can’t cross.
Shelley Wong is a Kundiman fellow who lives in the Bay Area. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Normal School, Devil’s Lake, The Collagist, CutBank, and Linebreak. She received the 2014 Normal Prize for poetry, and recently received her MFA in poetry at The Ohio State University.