THREE POEMS BY WENDY XU
It’s Almost My Birthday Don’t Tell Anyone
I go to sleep and wake up
different. You make a lengthy
drive across Iowa to find
the other end of Iowa, its fields
hung silent in iron sky. Claims
are always being made
about precision. If I were a bird
I would mean to be
the small kind. What is going on
in that room where
no one lives? It might fill
itself with delicate things,
some very nice iron bowls,
twelve miniature trees, all
of them aflame. How
many times did they tell you
you’d never make it? One day
is never longer than
the next, untangling film
from a canister. Somebody
means to measure you
by needle and light.
I take a quiet kind
of panic to the river.
That the stars pull a wave toward
other coasts. That wolves are something
else until you meet one
in his own room. What was that story
about transgression? Wolves that lick
their gums and smile. Those same
stars I do not understand. The cold
has left me in it and the plants
are dead holding each other in the back seat
of a car. I didn’t mean it. Sometimes
you have no choice but to drive
to Connecticut. I know my hands fold
on their own. I know falling
to my knees still means something.
That basin of cool water still answers
the moon. Here you are. Here
you always have been.
If You Aren’t Busy I Think I’m on Fire
I worry that someone is right about the end of the world.
If we performed an elaborate ritual
to prevent it, who could say we didn’t succeed? The deer live
on to cause another traffic jam, white tails flaring
in the sun. There is no way to disprove
you are infinite. I walk into a yellow house and a calendar
says 1973, the ceilings drag wires from room
to empty room. If we ordered the total annihilation of other people,
would we still need other people? Sunlight coming down
like a yellow tambourine of leaves.
* all poems from You Are Not Dead, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013.