A collection of poetry
by Patricia Wellingham-Jones
from Mongolian Art Exhibit
I turn a corner, stunned now by faces /
on the wall—masks of deities, shamans, /
in papier-mâché, carved wood, stuffed skin. /
Black brows pull down over glaring eyes, /
red mouths stretch in snarls or gentle smiles.
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Sex Scene in a Subway
The woman on the subway sleeps between stops,
in half-light could be the first girl I kissed--
before I learned to unclench my nakedness
for strangers. Her scent was the ocean,
the ground giving way and sucking me to sleep
in curls of seaweed or hair. I couldn’t say
how many between her and now hold a piece of me--
like the subway taking me under the ground.
Once a bag lady curled in the corner of the car.
sobbed, Jesus, help me. I can’t take it anymore.
I tried to ignore her, ashamed of the woman
whose pain was so real she could touch it.
All I had was the cavern of my throat,
a woman I haven’t touched in ten years--
pale mimesis of the grief in these pressed bodies.
One winter after another slipped by,
I boarded from a long walk, my slacks too thin
for the wind. I tried to wrap myself in my arms
and shivered until a woman, who could have been her,
or you, or anyone I met on the ugly train ride of coming
to myself, took the next seat, the meat of her thigh
spilling over to mine. I felt her heat crawl onto me
and stood to give my seat to someone else.
Through the glass I watched them stumble
in the next car, clutch at one another for balance,
what my first sex must have looked like: a knot
of arms and desperation, tangle of strangers.
And there in the glass, my own face, the dark
outline of my body reflected over them;
how you fit inside me.
Previously published in "The Science of Broken People"
A chapbook by Todd Hedlt, 2004
Todd Heldt Todd Heldt's poems have appeared in Laurel Review, Borderlands, Sycamore Review, Chattahoochee Review, Stirring and others. He has won awards for poetry and was nominated for a Pushcart this year. His first novel, Before You Were a Prophet, is currently being serialized in Hiss Quarterly. You can read them on-line at www.hissquarterly.com. He lives in Chicago and works as a librarian. — A collection of Todd's poetry will be featured in the Fall issue of Ink & Ashes.