Shelley Wong

White Rabbit

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.