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“Open Season” by Shelley Wong (5/24-5/30)

Monday, May 24 2021

Of nervous ardor — of arboreal delight — stemmed bounty, bouquet tumbledown —

Of arrows & their Eros, a sticky web, honeyed, stirring a forest, spiraling messages from branch to branch

The swollen cream-colored buds of the southern magnolia tree: one blossom blooms overnight like a skirt splitting in the heat

Of as an echo, as is each season, in which we are always praying for water, where the ocean exceeds herself & fire season is now & always

Of being among the trees as an apparition, to withhold the transformation

Of being abuzz among florals, choral in their scents — spiced jasmine deepening the cerulean twilight

Of flight — a male Anna’s hummingbird hovers in hyperflutter, presenting his magenta sequined throat

An exhale — a breaking down — a release —

Desire as an awakening, you dart as if winged — exhausted lusting for a luster, glittering for a gleam 

Startled by the body, its capacity to know without language, its return as rehearsing 

Of gentleness — that feather touch — a flame that flickers & traces the air with its vanishing

Of the breath between us — that we may meet & close the distance —

Shelley Wong
Shelley Wong is the author of As She Appears (YesYes Books, 2022), winner of the 2019 Pamet River Prize, and the chapbook RARE BIRDS (Diode Editions, 2017). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewGulf CoastKenyon Review, and The New Republic. She has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships and residencies from MacDowell, Kundiman, Vermont Studio Center, Fire Island National Seashore, I-Park Foundation, and SPACE. She is an affiliate artist at Headlands Center for the Arts and lives in San Francisco.