Elle Wonders

Do you?




He was staring out the window
waiting for me to come home.
“Your name is like a pair 
of book ends,” he tells me,
when I walk through the front door.
How so? I ask.
“It holds me upright.”

I laid down next to him
and we waited for hope to arrive.
“How do you feel?” he asks,
when I lay my head on his chest.
Like the inside of a seashell, I say.
He strokes my hair
and nods in agreement.

We watch as shadows play
on the wall, wordless,
because our hearts speak
even when we’re not talking.
As the tips of the sunset
disappear below the horizon,
our eyes close
and the dove outside the window
stops calling to us.


©Elle Wonders 2017

Songs of Searching

Walk me through a field of sweetgrass,
and I’ll bring back the days we passed.
Sing to me when doves are cooing, 
so I’ll turn around and understand.
Carry me through a summer’s twilight,
and I’ll show you the stars that shine.
Remind me how our moonbeams dance,
and we’ll try again, we’ll leave tonight.
If you lead me down the river delta,
we’ll find our way on the tree lined path.
The wind will carry our songs of searching,
and we’ll mark the place upon our map.


©Elle Wonders 2017


The Responsibility of Ruffles

When he woke,
I wasn’t next to him.
I had slipped downstairs
to the library,
where the warm
August air
still clung to the flaxen weave
of my reading chair.
When he asked why
I was awake so early,
I held up
the century-old book
with the blue
sapphire cover.
I told him the story
of how it was given to me
by a stranger,
in a castle
in Northern England.
Of how it was a brick
in a low wall of books
that twisted and turned
around a honey stone hearth,
in the great hall.
Of how the keeper,
upon learning that
my name
was on the cover,
told me to take the book
home with me —
just slip it into my bag,
and consider it a gift.
“It won’t be missed,”
he assured me.
“Please take it.”
The two of us were alone
in the castle, so I did.
And I had a new responsibility.
The responsibility of ruffles.


©Elle Wonders 2017



The last time I saw him was on CNN.
He was standing next to his aircraft,
wearing a khaki green flight suit,
trying to seem modest as the reporter
discussed his recent mission.
As if his record wasn’t impressive.
As if he could handle anything less
than perfection.

He looked invincible.
As if the scar on his cheek
wasn’t from a bullet
that barely missed his brain.
As if his Kiowa hadn’t been shot down.
As if he hadn’t skirted classified intel
when he sat in a café and recounted the story
between bites of crème brûlée.

His voice was confident.
He spoke as if he didn’t love war —
as if he hadn’t requested another tour.
As if he remembered how to be a civilian,
and still capable of vulnerability.
As if he knew how to be there for me
the one time I asked for a favor.
An important favor.
Something he did for a goddamn living.

“I’m not going to sit in two hours of traffic
to drive down from base on a Sunday,”
he told me, oblivious to my distress.
He sounded as if traffic was as stressful as flying.
As if he thought I wasn’t capable of walking away.
As if I needed him as much as he needed me
to be his beacon.

The desert terrain looked as barren as his heart.
But he was handsome, and the reporter was charmed.
When he took off his helmet and smiled,
I almost missed him.
As if I had forgotten everything I just told you.
As if he cared at all about my well-being.
As if there was anything left to miss.



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Last Goodbye

If we ever break up,
let’s promise right now
to give each other
one last night,
I tell him.
One last goodbye.
But when the day arrives
the promise fades
into our vacant eyes
and shattered stances.

Countless months later,
when I finally find the lever
hidden amongst the tocsin,
I receive a text.
“Do you remember
our last night together —
the one we never had?”
It’s been nearly two years,
I tell him.
“I know,” he says.
“I just can’t stop thinking
about that last goodbye.”

©Elle Wonders 2017


I cup my hand
over the starkness
of my right breast.
Like an inverse
pledge of allegiance,
I swear fidelity
to the ruined,
and try to hold
the pain
within my palm.
When asked,
I refuse help.
I don’t want them
to see the salt lines
of my disgrace —
the shame
of letting you
wrench the chaos
from where
I’ve kept it
for decades.
The shame
of letting you
uncork the bottle
that I’ve kept
with bits of wax
and twine.
The shame
of letting you
pour that shit
Dousing me
with my own
lighter fluid,
and watching,
eyes lit,
as the flames
lick my sanity.
When the ash
you tell me
your intentions
were good.
You were only
trying to save me
from the fire.
©Elle Wonders 2017


I chase after him
on the steep hill
of the fortress,
but he deftly
slips through
my fingertips
like he slipped
through his final
year of boyhood.

I reach out,
catch the hood
of his jacket,
and laugh
with triumph
as I hug tight
my only child,
until he finally
stands with me,
side by side.

Just before
the shutter is
I drape my arm
around his neck,
as if I wasn’t
holding on to him
for dear life.



©Elle Wonders 2017


Do you remember
the day we went
in the Louisiana bayou
and I spotted
the tiny dead turtle
on the bank of the river?
We wandered down
to the shoreline,
under a canopy
of tendrilled
Spanish moss,
and I found her
lying helpless
on her back,
swaying in the cool
shallow water.
When I saw the
broken state of her
once beautiful shell,
I knew it was
a sign
of the break in me
that was to come.


©Elle Wonders 2017

What He Brings

“Does your husband
ever bring you flowers?”
she asks while fussing
with a large bouquet
of cliché red buds.

“He brings me frogs,”
I answer, trying hard
to not sound smug.
“Each time he mows
the summer lawn,
he’ll catch me a little
tree frog. He holds it
in the palm of his hand
and we laugh as it slowly
climbs up his arm and
across his back before
leaping into the fresh cut

Glancing at her roses,
she looks crestfallen
and whispers that her
husband never brings
her frogs.



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Quiet

When I can’t

get out of bed

he brings me tea

and sits on the edge

of the mattress,

sharing with me

his quiet,

as he strokes

my hair

and looks at me

with every

good word

I’ve ever heard.


©Elle Wonders 2017

Half Finished

I know some fields that need walking —
land that will set me free.

I know some paths that need wandering —
roads that I’ve meant to see.

I know some words that need speaking —
thoughts that I wish you knew.

There’s still some life that needs living —
years I want to spend with you.


©Elle Wonders 2017


After work
he sits
on the couch
and thinks
about bliss.
He writes
in his notebook
the things
he mustn’t forget,
then grabs the leash
and steps through
the twilight.

Bliss follows him
into the night,
matching his stride,
to shoulder,
fingertips touching,
as a fawn
colored dog
trots up ahead,
leading the way.

He stops
when they reach
the water tower.
He puts his hand
on his chest pocket,
feels his heart move,
and knows
she’s there with him.
Where did you
come from?
he asks.
Bliss smiles
and tells him
she was born
just back there,
in the doorway.

The dark clouds
roll in
and he snaps
a photograph
of them standing
in front
of the tower
with her name.
Come my way,
he tells her,
and together
they walk home
catching raindrops
with their tears.


©Elle Wonders 2017



She asks me
how I am
and I tell her
I’m afraid of dying –
of becoming
a dot without
or consequence.
I blot my eyes
with a wet
paper towel
and she assures me
that many people
find comfort
in being a dot.
Dots can rest
and not be judged
and don’t feel
I still don’t want
to be a dot
I tell her
and then we talk
about her trip
to Mexico
and how she went
horseback riding
on the beach
like a tourist,
which is good
because yesterday
she found a lump
and feels too tired
to contest being
a dot.


©Elle Wonders 2017


Two Mile Road


On our way down
to little bay
we stumble upon
an unlit dirt road
as black
as a bottle of pitch.

When we see
the sleeping
farm houses
safely tucked away
in the tall fields
we stop fighting
and surrender
to the sea air
as it moves in
to claim us.

From your lap
I tilt my head back
to see Jupiter
as your skin
touches mine,
and I prepare
for our ascension
into the stars.



©Elle Wonders 2017

A Map of My Existence


As I laid
on the exam table,
the diagnostic
slid over
the thick coating
of gel
on my neck.
As she captured
after image
I stared
at the patterned
ceiling tiles
as if they were
a map
of my existence,
and imagined
how it might feel
to fade away
into a darkness
and cease
to exist.

When it was over
and we were
in the room,
I dried my tears
and told you
“For the first time
in my life
I finally
the will to live.”

You then
drove me home
in the rain
only briefly
to pick up
a small
white paper bag
of indica.



©Elle Wonders 2017



When you asked me
If I would follow you,
I didn’t know
you would take me
to a place
where words
would flow
like the Mississippi
and cross
just as many
state lines.

I didn’t know
You would build
a bonfire
of nurture
and proclivity
and burn a clearing
big enough
for me
to run around in.

I didn’t know
you would
harness energy
like a plough horse
and cut
through the earth,
overturning it,
exposing the roots
of my mind.



©Elle Wonders 2017

Ice Cream

I smiled

when I saw him.

Like I had been waiting

in line for ice cream

and it was finally

my turn.



©Elle Wonders 2017

Two Weeks

“I fell in love with you

the first day we met,”

he told me

as we crawled into bed.

The very first day?

You’re sure?

“Yes, but I had to

wait two weeks

to tell you.”

Why is that?

“Because otherwise you

would think I was just like

the rest.”



©Elle Wonders 2017

Old Blue


Sultry is the night
in a polka dot dress.
Fingers trail
cool waters
as we glide south
on our backs
gazing at comets.

Your hands, wet
from Old Blue,
roam the curve
of the land
to my ankle.
There’s laughter.
Soft. Anxious.
Was it mine?

The coat of night
stuck to your skin
feels fine.
“Your hair —
it smells of peaches,”
you whisper.
Or maybe
it’s just Georgia
waving her sweet

Water laps over
the edge of our raft
and lulls us.
Your hand glides
up my smooth calf
crossing my knee.
A shy laugh blends
with a bashful smile.
Eyes lock under
the illumination
of a low hanging sky.

Soft supple lips
so close
seeking moisture
despite the damp air.
Noses touch.
A biting lip
betrays the moment.
Your hand stops
to brush peach locks
behind my ear,
then once again
returns to its perch
on my ankle.
Good betrayal.
Knowing betrayal.
A necessary betrayal
under the umbrella
of darkness.

And there you are.
I see you now.
“I’m just a guy on a raft,”
you tell me,
as we drift with the current.
But what were you
before this?
“I don’t even remember.”



©Elle Wonders 2017

He Sounds

A bit rough
but heart felt.
by composure
and delicacy,
comes easily,
before all else,
and fills him
with a raw
that won’t
be driven out
by the wind.
There’s a bit
of twang,
a bit of Kansas,
and lots of life.


©Elle Wonders 2017


lowercase m

An out of place m

is a signpost

telling you

that the person

is far angrier

than they claim,

so be sure

not to listen

when they tell you

how they actually feel

if they start

their sentence

with a lowercase




©Elle Wonders 2017



They are stones
from a crofter’s
wheelbarrow –
piling up
one after another
building a shelter
to house a lifetime
of wonder.

They are the whir
of a one-cylinder
fueled by a hunger
to propel us
to a place
not yet known.

They are the pluck
of a string
held taut
between us,
the echo in a glen
of never-ending sky,
and the softness
of a beating heart
that yearns
for this life.



©Elle Wonders 2017


When he told me

about the summer

he was eight years old

and why every evening

he was sent to bed

in the stuffy light of day

lying there alone

listening to the children

who still ran free in the street,

I crawled on top of him

rested my head on his chest

and my hips between his thighs

and we sobbed

until our salt swollen eyes

closed against the night

and every harm

he hadn’t yet told me.



©Elle Wonders 2017

Spare Time

If you had extra years

would you spend them

with me?

We could close the gap

from across the sea.

Just think how we’d fill

our nights and days,

in that cottage we’d buy

to hide away.

We’d go down the pub

and run amok.

Then happily walk home

Just drunk as fuck.

In case you have time

you should think it through.

Because if I had extra years

I’d spend them with you.



©Elle Wonders 2017


The Weight of It

With eyes still


he lays his head

on my chest

and the weight of it

pins me in truth.

“I’m trying to find your heart”

he says.

You probably won’t.

It’s buried deep.

“I found it once before,

you know.”

I know.

But I don’t

keep it

in the same place





©Elle Wonders 2017


When my son asked
“Would you sell
your soul to the
if it meant
you would be
the best drummer
in the world?”
I told him
“No, but I would
if it meant
I would always
be with you.”



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Tempest

We get in your truck
and you drive me
a long-ago tempest.
Back through time
to all the hours
and all the roads
where your
met despair.

You point to a sky
of flaxen wheat
and draw me
a memory
until it comes alive,
then together
we watch
as it gets up and leaves.



©Elle Wonders 2017

When He Tells You

“You will hear from me lass,
whenever I am awake.
Until the end of time.”
He might just mean six months.



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Corner Man

He sips his cognac
and she sits at the waterfall vanity
uncorking the delicate glass bottles
filled with powders and creams.
She argues with him about the order of tea
(sachet, water, sugar, milk, of course)
and the conviction in her voice
is a promise he doesn’t yet believe.

She looks in his direction
and her smile strikes him like a match.
He knows the devil is near the surface,
but he wants a drink.
He doesn’t care how it’s dispensed –
he vows to savor every drop
and learn her body like
he learns a language:
mouthing each word slowly,
marveling at the way the sounds
feel on his tongue.

Even in the midst of pain
he feels bliss
and he tucks her into bed
with his insecurities.
Her eyes begin to close
and he feels the void.
“You can surrender yourself,” she tells him.
“I’ll be here when you awaken.”
When the line is suddenly cut
change comes quickly
and he feels the burden
of time and separation.
“It’s not goodbye,” she whispers in half-sleep.
“It’s just a pause to catch our breath.”



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Albatross


It was the day you killed
the albatross
at the beach house
that my grandfather built
that I realized
you didn’t know
what love was.
I tried to teach you
but it was more than
you ever knew could be true
so you decided
it wasn’t.

It was the evening we spent
at your friend’s house
in West Seattle
playing dominoes
that you told me those people
were more family
than I’d ever be
because unlike them
I didn’t look
like you.
When you swore it was
as true
as you knew it could be
I drove away
deciding it was.



©Elle Wonders 2017

What the Wind Brings


The sound

of crackle and tin

as it swirls around

a voice

I don’t recognize.

It’s not his

or my own

but a whisper

that drowns out


with a djinn and tonic.




©Elle Wonders 2017

To Run Again

He says,
baby let’s breathe
and keep talking.
I say,
I must hold tight
and stick to the rails.
He says, breathe.
We can make it work.
Just try with me again.
He says,
I’m standing at your doorway,
are you gonna let me in?
I have butterflies.
I feel so alive.
Girl, I swear to god
don’t leave me here.

So I say,
We’ll keep talking.
Baby, come inside,
spend the night.
Let’s try to run again.



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Suitcase

What do I do

With the fire in my chest?

“Bring it with us, baby,” you say,

and the twang in your voice

reverberates across the pond.

“Let’s put it in a fucking suitcase,

and bring it with us.”

And we’ll use it as fuel?

“That’s exactly right, girl.

Grab your suitcase full of fire.”



©Elle Wonders 2017

The Table on Grove


I laid dreaming wide
and awake
about the white kitchen table
in the farm house on Grove
with the screen door
that you slammed
every day.

About your strong hands
on the small of my back.
I mean, my shoulders.
I mean, my waist.
As I focus on the grit in your voice.

You’re mine, you whisper
holding my gaze.
The back of my neck.
Holding the table
as you cup my face
and slide
into my smile.

I stroke the chisel of your jaw.
Lead your blue eyes
to mine
and we look down
in wonder
at the way we merge
into soul and hollow.

I’m not going to stop, you tell me.
Not ever, I say.



©Elle Wonders 2017


I forgot how to live

until I woke in a field

with a bundle of kindling

on my chest

that I lit

with your mirror

in the great plain sun.


I forgot how to move

until you took

my hand.

“Come with me baby,

I’ll show you, let’s run!”

And we raced

alongside a train

we knew

we couldn’t stop.


I forgot how to fall

until I found the leaves

on the path we made

between the trees,

throwing our kite

in the air

and tumbling


to the mud caked ground.



©Elle Wonders 2017

Not Dorothy



Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas


Silver shoes click

A ruby shimmer

A voice of enchantment

The charm, she glimmered.


Black and white legs

Perfectly matched

The magical heels

So quickly snatched.


The cardinal points

On a compass rose

The obelisks, lecterns

And sundials, all know


I am but one of four

I governed the East

Shall I be missed?

No, not in the least.


But back in the day

When I was younger

My frock ‘twas shorter

And men did hunger


I had a braw lover

His life was taken

From that day forth

Joy was forsaken.


Passion turned dark

The mind twisted black

Those things we shared

I’d never get back.


Still wicked and weary

It was my time to part

A sad, broken woman

Who once had a heart.




Near the Salt Wedge

Photo by Elle Wonders – Spencer Island, Washington


What rises above me?

A floating silver orb trails a line of cottonwood trees, and a blue heron drifts solemnly through fog, his beating heart constant and rhythmic like a hand drum. Near the top of a tree, a cone shaped nest sits empty, aching, and abandoned.


What grows below me?

A meadow of flaxen grass grows up through parched, tangled weeds. Pools of clear, russet water rest next to flats of loam and mud where tiny footprints confirm early morning journeys. A wide brim of a hat and the ghostly scent of over-ripe gardens haunt the reclaimed earth.


What lies beside me?

A broken, hinged gate rests on its haunches keeping nothing inside the pickets of a fence. A weathered roof lies on the ground near an ancient gray tree, bare of branches. Rusted coils of copper lie in a decaying basket full of loss, and a starling in the brush chirps grandly about things of great importance, that no man will understand.


What moves inside me?

Lye, vinegar, and sorrow spill from shards of broken mason jars onto strips of faded linen. The rasp of passion drives away resentment, and I become the barn owl without a barn.





The First Snow in Oslo

Photo by Elle Wonders – Oslo, Norway



In Vigelandsparken there is snow on iron

forged gates, on copper roofed houses and

weathervanes, and on the stone breasts

of young maidens whose twirling hair pulls

the wind into a midwinter dance. The once

leafed giants line the path to a frozen gallery

for lovers to gaze, or not gaze, while their

mittened hands stay warm, and waiting.


Snowflakes fall on Sinnataggen – the angry

boy cast in marble who stands defiant above

the swirling river, while on the frozen bridge

below, a real boy sits in a wooden sled. His fur

cap is pulled tight over a fringe of milk-blonde

hair, and a reddened nose, the inscription of

his joy. When the evening sun glimmers, his

sure-footed hound tows him eagerly towards

home, and the awaiting hearth fire.


On the path to the monolith, snow falls on a girl

as she’s consumed by a lizard, a rounded mother

suckling her hungry dozen, a proud man cradling

his son, and a heap of boys caught in mid-fight.

She closes her eyes, and he slides the brilliant

diamond ring over a barren tree branch coated in

droplets of ice, and the gilded light of sundown

catch the facets of their years to come.


Photo by E. Andreas – Oslo, Norway



The Unchanged

Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas  –  “Memoires Blanches” by HenriAltersLife


They say that death,

doesn’t mean a thing.

I only left you for a bit,

was just down the street.


Listen for my voice,

find me in your dream.

We are still the same,

nothing has changed,

and again we shall meet.

Not Kept

Photo by Elle Wonders, 2014


A secluded, dark

humming abode.

Not domesticated

not controlled.

Free to forage,

or leave,

or swarm,

as they desire.

A collective storm.

El Baile

La bailaora
“La Bailaora” by  HenriAltersLife – Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas


El Baile

Her ruby dress
the click of heels
The way she turns
the things he feels
Unwavering gaze
a sway of hips
Her open fan
his parted lips

She makes him wait
his body hums
Her heart beats fast
his fingers strum
A blaze of red
her fire blooms
His swelling chest
it fills the room

He builds it up
she sets it free
He holds her close
she turns the key
A fever-pitch
their frantic want
First touch will slay
last touch will haunt

Into the Glistening

Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas – Artwork by HenriAltersLife


Into the Glistening


His shoulders drive against the cool silt,

and I am there, blocking out the stars as I make

my way slowly, bit by bit, with a gentleness

I know he’s forgotten.


Our mouths meet with every push and pull

– like magnets guiding us into perfect limerence.

And for the first time, there are no words.


His lungs expand, and his willing heart doubles.

He sends himself deeper, and his low, sonorous

keening fills my mouth. He’s here. He’s close.


With measured breath, I move against the

languor of eventide. With our lexicon of

resistance, I ask him again and again, and

he answers each one of my calls with

greets of surrender.


He gives me, without pause, that which is mine,

and he calls the rest his own: all that he’s

touched, and all that he has yet to discover.

Only me, he says. Only mine. No one else.


Every movement is a query bringing him closer

to freedom, wanted or not. He clutches and

shields me against the peril of his yearning, and

I move against our confines, burying us further

into the glistening.


The quivering warmth funnels down, resonating

through the hush of the chamber. And there is a

calm in everything. A spectacular dance of phosphenes.

Welcome home, I tell him.


© Elle Wonders 2009–2016


Ode to a Corbie

Ode to a Corbie copyright
Photo of E. Wonders by E. Andreas  –  Artwork by HenriAltersLife


Ode to a Corbie


Swift an’ black, wi’ feaithers sleek

He looms atop th’ branches.

Wi’ time, an’ tide, an’ moors sae bleak

His battered sool, entrances.


Mirk ushers in, oan corbie wings

Deid silence. Ah wait an’ listen.

Fur th’ lest c-r-r-r-ruuuck! tae me, he sings

Passion stirs, an’ mah een, they glisten.


A yearnin’ quaver, rises up frae th’ glens

Roosed by his calls, his tooch, an’ his need.

Frae his swellin’ soonds, a’m oan edge, he kens

Fur his keen, whetted glances, Ah heed.


When love’s een close, nae glancin’ back

Yit charms an’ spells sometimes daur.

With his unearthly grasp, Ah shaa ne’er lack

Each other’s longings an’ vices, we baur.


Th’ sharp, duple pitch, shaa ne’er be far

Fur oor wayward ambition, lies a nether.

Mooths against skin, mak’ e’erlastin’ scars

Stronger than time, is oor tether.

Tho ne’er was he, a raven pure an’ reit,

Forever blows th’ win’ thru mah bones.

A new wicked yearnin’ micht willin’ tak’ flight

Upon th’ day, his black heart, atones.


© Elle Wonders – 2016



Ode to a Corbie (English Translation)


Swift and black, with feathers sleek

He looms, atop the branches.

With time, and tide, and moors so bleak

His battered soul, entrances.


The dark ushers in, on corbie wings

Dead silence. I await, and listen.

For the last C-r-r-r-ruuuck! to me, he sings

Passion stirs, and my eyes, they glisten.


A yearning quaver, rises up from the glens

Roused by his calls, his touch, and his need.

From his swelling sounds, I’m on edge, he kens

For his keen, whetted glances, I heed.


When love’s eyes close, no glancing back

Yet charms, and spells, sometimes dare.

With his unearthly grasp, I shall never lack

Each other’s longings, and vices, we bare.


The sharp, duple pitch, shall never be far

For our wayward ambition, lies a nether.

Mouths against skin, make everlasting scars

Stronger than time, is our tether.

Though never was he, a raven pure and right

Forever blows, the wind thru my bones.

A new wicked yearning, might willing take flight

Upon the day, his black heart, atones.


© Elle Wonders – 2016



What She Becomes

Photo by E. Wonders, taken in her back garden.

When she can no longer be with him, and stir him in the ways he longs to be stirred, she finds other ways to move him.

When the unforgiving sun is beating down, and the wind is still, she is a cool gust of air, spiraling around him, whooshing past his ear, emanating the sounds he will no longer hear.

At night, when he doubts if his hand will ever trace the distinct arc of her hip, she becomes a flash of light, illuminating the dark sky, reminding him of his power, and how he sent jolts of bliss through her body.

In the early morning hours, before the rays of sun creep above the desert horizon, and the earth is still cold, she becomes a fiery orb that grows deep in his core, radiating from every point of his body, until he is warm and spent.

And on the days when he doesn’t need her help, she sprouts swift, feathered wings, and darts around the garden until she settles his attention. When she feels his focused, penetrative gaze, she lands on a flowering vine, so that she can watch him delight in a wonder.




Photo taken in Bonaventure Cemetery


Him: You’re staggeringly beautiful.

Her: I am staggeringly lost.

Him: You’re so genuine.

Her: I’m genuinely alone.

(sharing, admiring, connecting)

Him: I wish you the best.

Her: I wish we could go back to the beginning.

The Verge

Photo taken at Wallace Falls


We stand in a clearing of dense forest at the

edge of a river big enough to swallow us both

(if only we’d let it). You spot a white shirt up

in a tree, and we say maybe we should throw

our shirts up into the tree because this seems

like a place where shirts are not needed. But

instead we just linger for a long while amidst

the young saplings and smooth river stones,

taking great care not to look at each other.


When the day begins to fade and your face is

no longer sprinkled with sunlight, we walk

quietly back to the car. We have not left

behind any shirts for the next pair to find,

and regret swallows us whole.

Last Night in Harlem



(to Langston Hughes)


We’re standing on the corner of

Lenox Avenue and 142nd Street,

and you’re wearing my favorite

tweed, two button suit. Your

sepia toned fedora sits atop your

head, slightly askew, casting a

shadow over your right eye.

I reach out playfully to raise

the brim, but you grab my wrist,

taking in the dappled scent of

bergamot and rose.


At dinner, you loosen the knot

of your paisley tie and lean in

close, over the polished mahogany.

I place a box in front of you. It’s

a russet toned handkerchief –

an early birthday gift that matches

your suit perfectly. Did you think

I wouldn’t get it right? I’ve spent

seventy-two years looking for this

exact color.

Mapa da Boa (The Good Map)

Map da Boa with eye
Detail from the 1502 Cantino Planisphere

She guides him to shore, at the south end of the archipelago, and he uncovers the map in a place where beauty never lies. “There is a very thin line that sometimes I fail to see,” he tells her, and slowly he builds a bridge between what he feels and what he understands. Together they will travel there and back again.

She wriggles her bottom into the cool sand and encourages the fray at the hem of her skirt, as she watches him smooth the delicate bronze surface. His eyes dance as he tries to decipher each symbol, and his hands trace each line of longitude and latitude, pausing at the places where they meet, and she unravels.

It’s a map not unlike other maps, but his hands are methodical, and his gaze pushes deep. His heavy heart pours over every inch, and he sees what others haven’t. “I know I shouldn’t say, but, your eyes…” he tells her. “I have to focus, to not get lost.” The way he says it, makes other men sound hollow, like conch shells. Disoriented, but trusting, he tucks her voice into his shirt pocket to be his compass. “Keep helping me, woman,” he whispers along with her soft sounds.

At ten paces away he already misses her scent. Her thoughts. The way his hands might rest on her hips. “Keep me close,” she calls to him. “Yes, I’ll keep you,” he informs her as he rolls up his sleeves, “But only the brave dares into the unknown, seeking the new.” She carries his words to the far corner of the map, where she bathes.

She soaks in the current, and he notices that when she’s silent, she looks down to her right, to wonder. His attentive grasp makes her cheeks blush rouge and she casts her eyes downward, in her favorite cardinal direction. “Also…” he adds, “Your lips… they tremble slightly before you bite them.” Flustered, she says it’s the biting that makes her lips tremble, not the other way around. “That, I do not know,” he muses. “I saw it not just once, and possibly more than twice – but I know you do not tremble for the casual.”


When daybreak comes, he feels naked, and yet there are still many miles between them. “Be as good as you’d like to for me,” he tells her. She warms, and in her mind she is good. “You have my full attention,” she tells him, but his coyness makes him look away, and so she does the same for him, giving him a place to be. “No, keep watching,” he tells her. “The shyness will leave, and then something else will arrive.” He sees a wave of tension wash over her. “Don’t be afraid of me,” he implores. “Let me be afraid of me.” But she wasn’t afraid of him. She was afraid of the things that were not him. But as always, the gap was still there, and the bridge was not yet built. What was the catalyst? He did not know, but it was undeniably happening.

“Three senses to go,” he reminds her, and she imagines checking off each box. “I could kiss you goodbye now,” he mused. “Both sides. Left, and right.” But, would that be both taste and touch? Neither of them ask out loud. “A good kiss can stop a clock. And a heart,” she whispers over his shoulder, and over the sound of the empty shells. “Find me soon,” she tells him. “I’ve found you once already,” he reminds her.

She is the last thing he thinks of when drifting off, the first thing when he wakes, and everything in between. He wishes he would have murmured these things into her ear, while still in the place of half-sleep, but now he can only tell her with his eyes. “You should have looked for me there,” she speaks to his silence. “That’s where you would have found me.”

He looks East then West, and wonders how often she must get lost. How many times must he continue to find her? “I believe you are always found. I just happen to tell you,” he assures her, resting his cheek against her forehead, “But those things that I find with you, are sometimes almost unbearable.”

“But do you enjoy the unbearable?” she asks, hopeful. “I want whatever can be,” he confesses. “Both the affliction and the cure.” His words rang in her chest, and it took her back to where she dwells –amidst the push and pull, the call and response. It was their dance, and they moved with the tides. “But the details, how they slay!” she wails, as the first one struck deep. It made her legs buckle, and brought her to her knees, in the wet sand. He’s fond of reciprocation, you see.


He reads the map when she sleeps, and then reads it again. When he awakens her, they begin to build a confessional from all that they have. A sacred place, where words can be stripped bare. A sanctuary for thirst and ambition. “How long can you wait?” he asks. Her heartbeat matches his pauses, because never is too long. “If you stare like that, not long at all,” she replies with eyes blazing aquamarine.

At nightfall, they cross a bridge into their place of abandon, where she confesses, and he absolves her eager heart, again and again, in a language not her own. He will demand more confessions until his head swims in them, because he is her salve, and she is his Isolde.

He reminds her that absolution does not come without sacrifice, and peril, so she stands close to the wall of inhibition – their own prime meridian – and she understands what she must relinquish in order to give. “Come closer, still. Tell me dearly,” he whispers urgently until she leans in far, and shows him those unwritten parts of the map. He kisses every scar, and they bless the darkness that shields them. They vow to never find their way back.

“Do you love me in these hours?” she asks, as he re-discovers each region. “I don’t know time with you,” he tells her. “You are always with me, whether you want it or not. You are now forever responsible for what you have tamed, and what you have set free.”

When the fever dissipates, he watches with graceful sorrow, as she wades out far into the wine-dark sea, and turns to look back at him. “I will find you,” he assures her. “I always do.”

© Elle Wonders 2009–2016


Mapa da Boa, by Elle Wonders. Acrylics. Canvas panel. 11×14.

Pour Mon Bzou

final bzou art with copyright
Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas   –   Artwork by HenriAltersLife


It came in rushes, then slowed – that longing for a place that wasn’t enough. Her skin glowed around his shadow, and with her ear to his heart, she let it pulse.

It was a trap, but not a trap. It was an epoch of abundance. An embarrassment of words, tongues, and gods; all of them unforgiving. Déshabiller du regard. Je veux te déshabiller du regard. She didn’t know if her tongue could do that. If a tongue can be a god, is that too much? There is no too much.

His hands were his method of divination. His words fluttered, and threatened. How did he plan to betray her, if not like that? She would no longer be his, this man who ruled with an iron wand.

Oceans closed.

“Crush my enemies, and I’ll revere you,” he told her, but he was his only enemy, and it kept her wakeful. “Do I have to send you to bed, L’Aigle Noir?”

They shot glances at each other like arrows, daring the other not to flinch, and succumb to their story; a tale that weaved blades of dry grass through fear, then arousal, then back to fear again. How can you know what makes a spirit burn? To not feel the sting is either very lucky, or unlucky. She changed her mind often.

He discovered there was a word she did not have, so he tried to teach her. Elle est troublante – like a volcano blooming. “Can a volcano bloom?” This was the afterthought, as he watched her float across the horizon.

And so they waited. Delayed. Paused. But didn’t postpone. Never that. They played at the edge, getting closer and closer. There was falling and catching. There was stumbling.  Tu me manques. J’ai envie de toi. J’ai envie de te toucher.

He kept track, and she lost track. When the strands were drawn together, they forgot so that they could start again. They wanted to get lost and not find their way back. But they weren’t too far gone. They were barely far enough. But alas, they arrived at a spark, unwavering, and dense.

Time stopped.

“It’s as if you are missing a heart,” she told him. “You can share however you’d like to share, but do share.”

“There is no hiding. I am missing a heart,” he said. “We were fledglings, unwise, and now we’re worse. I could die any minute. That I do not want, except a little; la petit mort.” How quickly they hatched, matured, mated, and perished. A life ephemeral.

A blaze of epiphany. Like baneberries in dim light, he could not have imagined the whites of her eyes. Her stare caught his flaws, like fireflies in a bell jar, and his good fortune wandered off like a gypsy.

“I felt it,” he professed, “but I kept it deep down in my heart where it’s dark, and didn’t tell you.”

She kept walking, and didn’t look back to see the anguish and devilry that lit up his face.

“Like you said,” he called after her, “Pour mon bzou.”



© Elle Wonders 2009–2016



The Dirty Little Shrine

elle rouge photo
Photo of Elle Wonders by E. Andreas   –   Artwork by HenriAltersLife


He wanders down the path for the not undeserving, to a place where sometimes is enough. A place where electricity surges and hums through his chest, as the yellow light filters down through the canopy, glimmering like a bright spirit who understands – one of the happy few.

And there were oceans.

It’s evening in the morning when he finds his dirty little shrine. She is surrounded by torches that coax the truth like he coaxes the sound that her tongue cannot make. He says they are hidden, but she says they are gone. So they sit on a bed of pine needles, and he tells her their story. Her mouth glows with the light of her mind, and his words unlock a vertigo that makes her want to jump. He sees movement in her eyes, but she doesn’t run. “The face wants what the face wants,” she tells him, as she raises her soft cloak. He watches as a slow French word slips off her tongue, and bends.

And all the moments were God.

“I bleed,” he tells her. “Bleed with me then,” she says. And so they bleed together. He draws a pastèque bath in a large wooden tub, and they sit nestled in bunches of melon, crushed under the weight of want. They smile together as the juice runs down their elbows. “This shrine is not going to get any cleaner,” he warns her, knowing the pastèque will eat itself.

And the drum was full of life.

She sees the hunger in his face, but not in his heart, because like the sound on her tongue, it has been hidden. “If my heart was pulled out of my chest and put, beating, in front of you, would you know what it wants?” he asks. Look how easily he betrays his heart for her, ripping it out of his chest like an Aztec god. She just nods as they sit in their dinner bath, and play like warriors, and he sees how her fire begins in her mouth. Like a dragon.

And there was feeling back in his chest.

He crosses lines like he crosses seas, and together they build their new conviction. They tape off the boundaries of their church, and he reminds her that she is the shrine. “Yes, I am ours,” she tells him, and they blend their flavors until they both suffer, because he can’t wish it otherwise. “But only a little,” he tells her, as his pulse quickens.

And there was breathing.

The forest is dark and damp, and she feels the soft, loamy earth underneath her. The night brings them fear, and awakening, and a language that has no home. He gives her paper thin kisses and whispers those other things – but not all out loud, and even some of them not at all, but they are still there. The sound of her rhythm, and the tang of his anguish sit on the edge of on their lips, and they bleed together, kidnapped for the ages.

Because she was the trigger, the bullet and the gun.



© Elle Wonders 2009–2016


Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: