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Volume 2 | Issue 4 | May 2008 | 

Just Long Enough To Hurt
Lesley Wheeler


Grooves of ivy twisted along the silver
rims, and some demon haunted the lenses—
a spirit, an insect that noticed Ada’s longing.
When she raised the glasses to her face, she
sensed it shifting, knew its menace. Through their
frames she glimpsed her real world, not this shadow
place with its sagging wires and dirty streets, but
skies she knew, where bronze-tipped clouds cast patterns
of yes and no over the pastures. Frightened,
she mislaid the spectacles time and again.

Wanting costs so much—you stop feeling
whole. So Ada tolerates blurred contours,
buys a car, and eats her food from plastic
packages. Just once in a while, just for a
minute, she lifts the windows to her unlocked
eyes and hazards everything. Lids wide, she
hears each separate shaft of grass, freely
bent and humming allegiance to the wind, and
closer by, a hungry predator, keen to
pounce. Just long enough to say yes, and no.

Lesley Wheeler is is a Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, in the United States. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Scholarship Girl; her poems appear in AGNI, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, and other publications. Her second scholarly book, Voicing American Poetry, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press in the spring of 2008. She is also a co-editor with Moira Richards and Rosemary Starace of Letters to the World, an anthology of poems from members of the Women’s Poetry Listserv, forthcoming from Red Hen Press.









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