Dear mouth opening into a yawn,
Why did you disappear so quickly?
After our time together I was hoping
we could really make something of this
something lasting more than a few
soft bars to hum later over train sounds.
My wheels are fully greased for once
& all I’ve got to lose are these shapes
I’ve drawn in the snow, one looks like
a duck, and that’s nothing.
I could lose that.
I tried to reach out and grab your hand
when we pulled up to the stop, tried
to send you a message in the chat window
but the webinar was just a recording,
it turns out, and dolphins are smart,
sure, but in what way? And what does it
mean to us? And how do we know
a tree isn’t smart? Or a rock? Or a
You’ve got three languages you use
when you tell me you have to
leave the party early, to tell me
you have work in the morning,
but I don’t think I know any of them.
Don’t get offended, mouthgesture,
you’re a real beauty, a total knockout
in fact, I just don’t have real teeth
anymore, it’s all synthetic in here
& the sun has words for that kind of
thing, right? Fire-words? That can
keep us warm and kill us all at once?
This thing you’re telling me is the real
live dog I’m holding right now, or
it’s what he looked like as a scrappy
pup, still suckling. Hand me a few
candles for the road and I’ll belt out
something fresh and cool that looks
like a lizard, like the time you turned around
& I wasn’t there all of a sudden.
Where did I go? You never figured it
out. You just went home & hung your
newest paintings, still wet, & the leaves
outside said soft things, those little hey-
Keep well, soldier,
Have I lost you by now?
We haven’t written in a handful &
I am wondering if I ever really knew you
or if my letters are underneath some snow
somewhere. It’s winter now, a cold one,
& last time I saw you it was sun, or warm
rain & that could mean months or years or
lives ago, but I know once on one of these
days we made clouds with our breaths mixing
& washed our faces & grew beards long enough
to feed the winter birds from. I grew five beards
& you grew twelve, I think, maybe my numbers
are off though, but I know your skin was spotted
then, and mine was striped, and moved across
my back when the sun was out.
I might be making this all up, but were you
a season? Or a dragon? Or a river? Probably
all three, knowing you. It’s time for my bath now,
but let me know when the marble
teeth I carved you finally wear out,
because I can always make more
& the ones they sell in stores
don’t have the love mine do.
Winter Prayer no. 1
Dear thing that is trembling in the
cold dark not late but early,
Hold my hand when my face
wants to cry but only yawns.
Hold my head when all sound comes
into focus as one sharp buzz &
the world makes a decision about
how blurry it wants to be & that
decision is “very.”
Lick my wounds & put me on a shelf
next to a candle for a ghost of heat
that can come tell me how cold it will be
once he’s leaned away again.
Drive me to the bus stop & see me off
to sleep in a seat until I can arrive
in a place that will whisper at my sadness,
Come out lil guy.
It’s okay now, everyone is gone,
left for work you’re not doing
& my dreams will still be a place
with rooms about everything
except what has come to crush me.
In your name,
SARA WOODS is a transgender poet living in Portland, OR. She is the author of Wolf Doctors (Artifice 2014) and Sara or the Existence of Fire (Horse Less Press 2014). Her poetry and collaborations are published or forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Diagram, Salt Hill, Denver Quarterly and Guernica. Find her online at moonbears.biz.