Poetry from the Spring 2022 edition of The Wellesley Review
In this section:
Route 1 by Shelby Ferris ’25
eulogy for s[explicit] by Lily Herold ’22
Tideline by Jacqueline Roderick ’23
ava calms me sane by Kiki Chen ’22
seven thoughts on a rainy night in carmel-by-the-sea by Cheryl Wang ’23
floor thoughts by Ari Traver ’23
My Spanish by Itzelt Reyes Chaparro ’23
sidewalk chalk by Kendra Tanacea ’88
Family Portraiture in the Nineteen-Seventies by Emma Sullivan ’24
Wild Leeks by Sarah Wendy Burman ’22
The Meteor by Deavihan Scott ’22
apricity by Mila Cuda ’22
Aubade at 8:03am by Kiki Chen ’22
CA Route 1: The 2nd largest state highway in the US. There are no exits for over one hundred miles, with towering mountains and sea on either side.
We are heading south,
chaos in the back seat
As the little girl cries in fear
At the sight of the mountains and far drop.
I am ready to go back,
Take the commuter way,
But suffocated by concrete,
I pull right at the last second,
And we are 1 bound.
The crystal waves cut the shore
The rugged mountains loom like gods,
And my hands quiver on the wheel.
The ocean gales shake the car
I roll the windows down,
And she stops crying at the sight of the sea birds.
The cutting waves disappear with softness and a twinkle
And the mountains’ stature takes on a divinity.
I look at the birds,
And the red clay against the blue sky,
I see the drop,
And the unending mountainside,
And I know the ride is worth the risk.
The coast hosts
talks with the dead
and walks with the living;
yes, the tide carries carcass
trudged from deeper depths
and along the shore breathes
the mollusk and lives the sea worm
beneath pools of cool reflectives.
We leave ourselves at the dune grass
for custom’s sake, squeezing toes between
pebbled stones I cannot name,
cursing our soles for never quite hardening
against gritted and gutted ground.
Plucking white smoothed rock
from its rightful place, you turn to me.
“Quartz is for healing,” you haunt,
you taunt, you tug at my weary ear
while the seagulls drink salt water
and I lap at my own tears;
the wave crashes again
bookending our watery womb,
our watery grave.
Yet in your midst I remind myself this:
I did not come into this world needing to be fixed.
I was born from an angry ocean
in the story of ill fated lovers,
but that doesn’t mean
I too must die so quick.
No, I gather kisses from shy lulls of tide
to tuck myself in by the full moon’s light
and refuse to smooth myself into abyss.
The sea laps at my feet with unfamiliar kindness
and I take pity on our walks, our talks we could never hold:
You only know love as a series of battles against the soul.
Some nights I come home with quartz in tow,
a relic of misunderstanding, of deeply tried love.
In your unlived lives and dead deaths dies
whatever part of yourself capable of recovering.
On marches ocean, against shoreline,
leaving behind our unsaid footsteps
seven thoughts on a rainy night in carmel-by-the-sea
once, the earthen clay bore fruit
and from it, nüwa and
parvati and obatala and
prometheus plucked out the
unwilling, furious lot. think! why
we cry so heartily when forced
out from our silent wombs
return me to the soil
when my indenture is done
and i shall live once again
in the faces of cliffs and
the bones of a bird-of-prey
when the sun casts a heady glow
the ocean retreats, ashamed
the rightful denizens of this kingdom:
maggots, squirming beneath the rotting kelp
only to be crushed by the passing foot of a child
or swept away by vengeance of an evening tide,
too young to flee to the skies
one desperate glance
and lot’s wife, erected
into a great pillar of salt
to the keen waters of the jordan she took
weeping profoundly into the sea of the dead
i, wrested with fear
that sodom remains aflame
do not look back
seldom does regret
let go so easily
on a merry monday morning by the tide pools
a child plucks up a hermit crab between two fingers
watches it clinically
the same way kitty will discover my corpse
and decide which eyeball to eat first
we are the products of our choices
and victims of ghosts
haunted by what-ifs and could-haves
in a warm mud bath in calistoga
it feels easier to sink in forever
escape from the biting air outside
so long as a heart beats
we continue to mold our futures
what echoes does the sea keep? a
lover’s sweet nothing, a child’s wish
the shout of a drowning man
too far from shore
the sea takes all, too selfish to
share with the earth
engraved within the conches
are the secrets of pangu’s blood
listen, and remember you are nothing
but an insignificant pearl of clay
rolled from the tears of the tigris
dreaming of sentience
I want people to
be flirting on my grave.
I want boys puffing their chests out
at winking girls,
and girls at winking girls
and people who are half
boy and half girl
all dancing around each other
on the grass
six feet above my dusty bones.
Itzelt Reyes Chaparro
My Spanish, my treasure, my most grande tesoro.
It’s singing norteñas underneath the sun. Rejoicing
in the family reunions that take place every Sunday
al atardecer. Reaching out to everyone through nopales and carne asada.
My Spanish at night le agradece al señor. For giving
lots of opportunities to its children. Y le llora a la luna,
because some of its children have forsaken it.
My Spanish at the moment is broken and shattered.
It was never this way though, it used to be that alegre soul that
danced the party away. That wore the brightest dress y
movía la pista de baile. And when everyone went home, it would
sway its way to the door. Classically tapping its heel to the floor,
Signaling that the building was no longer blessed with its presence.
But when exiting, they pulled it.
Stole la luz que poseía.
Knocked it unconscious,
Dragged it across the floor,
Rompiendole el vestido en el proceso
And left it crying in the corner.
And you know what? It never deserved that.
I want my Spanish to be called Freedom again. I want it to be a monedita de oro
that I carry through every paso. Unashamed of the accent that it generates when speaking other languages.
I want it to thrive, soar, and fly through the sky like it used to.
To not give in and leave,
But to stay and become an armor against bigotry
I want it to be a giant that’ll Trump every prejudice-based wall
Playing along to the Mariachi strings, fighting against racial snobbery
And my Spanish is my pride.
Mi Español es mi corazón.
My Spanish is my people.
Mi Español soy yo.
God Bless, Itzelt Reyes Chaparro
Kendra Tanacea, Class of 1988
we live in an ecstatic zip code
my chartreuse love
no troubled cream
a yard of purple dandelions
oh where we can go
when we sketch the faintest
outline of our front door
my sympathetic handbag
bursts with Benjamins
sincere sidewalks accept
my hurtful stilettos
sweaty spills of cold brew
nothing comic strip about this
grab my hand and jump in
horses cantor off the carousel
at Coney Island and we pass
compulsive bumper cars
(so sad) only going in circles
we’re off the rails as they say
in a pastel of our own making
we’ve added a bumpy road
a crazy sunset
our sweaty horses drink
from an apricot lake
here’s your red boat & oars
your untroubled day
up, up and away
a fat balloon lifts us over our
purple and green home
into the mackerel sky
our marble rolls into a ring
a sidewalk god-game we play
Family Portraiture in the Nineteen-Seventies
Ten months spent eroding enamel,
I drink orange juice from a machine.
I cannot look up to meet your eyes,
I chew each piece of food ten times.
I count the steps to your door on both hands,
I think of this many questions tonight—
who made you who and how?
which call signs do you know by heart?
I think of scooping cupfuls of chlorine, will
my grandmother have moved from that house with the pool?
when the Olympics come she climbs up the ladder and fastens
a flag. She washes the green from my hair.
If you were to ask my father, it mattered
most that the street corner shared her name.
Something to the point of her stubbornness,
but she wants to be addressed, I think so do I.
Sarah Wendy Burman
I read a book where a woman gathers wild leeks
from the woods behind her neighbor’s house —
neon shoots dug on hands and knees
from the frozen earth, and fat white bulbs
so different from the store-bought shafts with their cropped green fans
bound in threes or fours by dusty rubber bands
like small wrists held between a grocer’s thumb and finger.
I’ve never had a wild leek, but somehow I imagine
they’d be different — the bright tops and unfurling leaves
and the way you have to kneel to reach them
and bear them home stiff-backed, with soil
under every crease — and I crave them now
these things I’ve never had
like a seed yearning for the sun.
I hear the song she sings as she digs —
shaking the earth from every tuber as she
makes her way along the forest floor,
zephyring back through hollowed logs to the old growth
where iguanodon peers from thunder-sheet leaves
and diplodocus cranes his neck to catch at treetop fronds
and back again to a field with rows and rows of kale
and the way you looked at me when you said
there was something old-world about me
and how you didn’t mean countries, even though we’d just spent
most of the afternoon talking about colonialism, and railroads
built by people who didn’t want them on lands
where bones were found, too — and prints like little angels in the riverbeds.
And I asked how you would love me if I didn’t grow in rows,
but in patches here and there in dappled groves where the earth was
still cold enough to numb your fingers
and you laughed — not about that, I think
but something else — and went camera in hand
to watch the train come up from the valley —
and I stood in the field with the cracked earth, watched as brachiosaurus
turned his head and feet westward and wondered
if it’s really the leeks we crave at all
or just the act of kneeling.
a meteor crashed a long time ago
in the space
between your teeth
and left a crater
so much and so little
about why there’s stardust
in between your gums
and flecks of rock
behind your molars
Created a pit in the gap
where we spew spit
to get a laugh
out of one another
like ash and falls flat
in the silence
But it didn’t just hit you
It took the dinosaurs
and the cavemen
and the little seeds of grass
that you were planting
That’s why you couldn’t give them
You were too
because you were there
at the dawn
(You don’t believe me?)
want to believe you.)
Oh, but it has been so long since
I stared up
and longed to see
a streak burning through the sky
to crash and shatter
in your smile
golden shovel, after The Wonder Years
sunshine splintered in the bare skin of winter: Rare, like god
or a room temperature below blistering—the damn
radiator is broken, so we sleep with the window open. You
snorehum, teeth clicking a harmony, & I drool a river on your pillow. We wake to look
at the snow collected on the windowsill. Sure, the night is holy
but the night is spent catching silverfish, sweating. The bed bathed
in lavender oil & whisperwishes for sweeter dreams. There’s nowhere I’d rather be, in
this blizzard heat, beside the steady breath of apricity, fidgeting on the
twin size mattress we somehow make work. It’s the almost eve end of January
& I want to call you the brightest thing, but I won’t, cause I’m wrong. We’re right. You’re light.
Aubade at 8:03am
I like it best when you leave notes.
On the mirror, on the fridge,
on the counter, on the French press
that only you use.
This is why I have started leaving
more Post-it notepads around —
so that it’s as convenient as possible
for you to scrawl something silly
before buttoning your shirt all the way
or putting on socks.
I know this bends the rules a little,
but I have been trying to break the rules
ever since you said no strings
and I was too focused on your neck
to say anything but of course.
I want you to leave me notes because
I’m afraid that you won’t. Since
we both can’t stand the look in your eyes
when I try and ask you to stay.
The rules. Of course,
it’s not really about the notes.
I just don’t like to think of you,
dawn-lit, without me.