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Palindrome

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

 

Reading of From the Beehive

Reading of The Albatross

Lionsteeth

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Lionsteeth by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 8×10.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

The Middlemost Winter

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The Middlemost Winter by Elle Wonders

 

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Wrath of Saint Flannon

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Wrath of Saint Flannon by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Stretched canvas. 11×14.

©Elle Wonders 2017

Blink

blink
Blink by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 12×12.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

The Midlands

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The Midlands by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

©Elle Wonders 2017

 

The Kelpie of River Spey

horse
The Kelpie of River Speyer by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Many Moons Ago

lantern 1
Many Moons Ago by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Gallery wrapped canvas. 18×24

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Après la Danse

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Après la Danse by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 16×20

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

 

A Dot Without Memory

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A Dot Without Memory by Elle Wonders

 

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 16×20

©Elle Wonders 2017

This Is Only A Test

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This Is Only A Test by Elle Wonder

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

©Elle Wonders 2017

Radiohead

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Radiohead by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

The Timekeeper

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The Timekeeper by Elle Wonders

Acrylic. Canvas panel. 11×14.

 

©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

Sauveour

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
hidden
for decades.
The shame
of letting you
uncork the bottle
that I’ve kept
sealed
with bits of wax
and twine.
The shame
of letting you
pour that shit
everywhere.
Dousing me
with my own
lighter fluid,
and watching,
eyes lit,
as the flames
lick my sanity.
.
When the ash
settles
you tell me
your intentions
were good.
You were only
trying to save me
from the fire.
.
.
.
©Elle Wonders 2017

Thirteen

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
released,
I drape my arm
casually
around his neck,
as if I wasn’t
holding on to him
for dear life.

 

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Tortugita

Do you remember
the day we went
swamping
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
grass.”

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

Bliss

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,
shoulder
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
emblazoned
with her name.
Come my way,
he tells her,
and together
they walk home
catching raindrops
with their tears.

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

 

Dots

She asks me
how I am
and I tell her
I’m afraid of dying –
of becoming
a dot without
memory
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
lonely.
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
watching
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
wand
slid over
the thick coating
of gel
on my neck.
As she captured
image
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
alone
in the room,
I dried my tears
and told you
“For the first time
in my life
I finally
understand
the will to live.”

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

 

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Stay

When he said

“Stay with me”

last week,

he meant

please don’t

disappear

from his life.

When he said

“Stay with me”

last night,

he meant

please don’t

disappear

from this world.

 

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

 

Wolde

 

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
goodbye.

Water laps over
the edge of our raft
and lulls us.
Your hand glides
up my smooth calf
crossing my knee.
Deliberate.
Careful.
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.
Unruled
by composure
and delicacy,
awakening
comes easily,
before all else,
and fills him
with a raw
yearning
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

m

 

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Words

 

They are stones
pouring
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
engine
fueled by a hunger
to propel us
forward
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

Swell

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

closed

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

anymore.

 

 

 

©Elle Wonders 2017

Crossroads

When my son asked
“Would you sell
your soul to the
devil
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
through
a long-ago tempest.
Back through time
to all the hours
and all the roads
where your
hope
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.
Forever.
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

sin

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,
Breathe.
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

Hollow Tree at Lanhydrock

100-hollow-tree
Photo by Peter Levers

When I think of little hollows, I think of a hollow in a tree, or in a thicket of brush. I think of the slight concave area just above a hip, or collar bone. The dip at the top of a man’s shoulder, or the soft depression at the top of a woman’s inner thigh. But I also think of the hollow places we all have inside us, that most will never see. Those small voids that become full when we experience extraordinary love, and intense connection. These are the hollows that draw us in, and make us seek ways to fit together.

This stunning photo is by photographer Peter Levers. It is very similar to the image I have in my mind when writing Little Hollows Beckon, and it captures the mood of my story incredibly well.

Not Kept

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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.

The Cocoon on Glasgow Street

Guelph! 004redish
Photo by Elle Wonders  –  Amish Country, Ontario Canada.

The first time I heard the song “Hey There Delilah,” it was playing on the radio, in my little blue rental car. It was Sunday morning, and I was packing up the Toyota Yaris in Jack’s driveway, rushing to get to the airport in Toronto to catch my flight home.

Jack was busy writing down driving directions on a very small sheet of memo paper, because I realized I had no idea how to get back to the city from his house on Glasgow Street. I leaned against the driver’s side door and watched as Jack concentrated on writing. The sun had turned his hair blonder than ever and it was still tousled from the night before. I reached out and rested my hand on his arm, trying to memorize how it felt when our skin touched. He looked up and smiled because he knew.

I looked around one last time and thought about how much I would miss Waterloo and this old historic house that had become our cocoon for the past ten days. The overgrown vegetable garden, our large sleeping nest in the living room, the bright yellow kitchen where we sang Bob Marley songs while making enormous batches of homemade guacamole, leaving the entire city without avocados.

I thought about our leisurely drive out to Amish Country and how we stopped at a farm to buy peaches. I photographed the Amish family who sold us fresh produce from a large wooden wagon, as their overdressed children ran through waist-high, 19th century fields.

I thought back on the days we spent camping on the dunes of Lake Erie. How we swam all day in the warm waves of that vast lake and then sunned our wet, tired bodies on faded towels. We were so content lying side by side on the shore, pretending that our days weren’t numbered.

I thought of our last evening at the lake and how we relaxed on the beach in our camp chairs. Our feet sunk into the warm sand as we drank the last two cold bottles of Corona from the cooler. The water was calm and our world was right, until the conversation changed gears. Jack started arguing about child labor laws and the gross injustice of retail clothing stores, and sweat factories. In the end, he stormed off, leaving me with a half-finished bottle of warm Corona in my hand and feeling a bit homesick.

Jack was ten years younger than me. He was not long out of college and was still at the age where he thought he could change the world. I loved that about him, but his strong opinions were sometimes a point of contention. So when he didn’t return after our argument, I packed up the folding chairs and walked back to our campsite, seeking refuge from the now swarming mosquitoes. Meanwhile, Jack walked inland and meandered through trails of low brush, strolling obliviously past the numerous signs that warned of dangerous parasites and the high threat of lime disease. Just after dark, he showed up at our tent with an apology and a tick. Once the small bloodsucking insect was killed, I calmed down and we made up.

When we woke the next morning, we saw that Jack had also brought poison ivy back with him to the tent, because two oval rashes appeared on the insides of my thighs. Within a few weeks the rashes healed, but the poison ivy left scars. Six months later the scars were completely gone. I cried the day I noticed their absence.

“Hey there Delilah, don’t you worry about the distance, I’m right there if you get lonely, give this song another listen, close your eyes… I’m by your side.” We said our aching goodbyes and with a brave smile I backed out of the gravel driveway. With a heavy heart, Jack waved as I left our cocoon and eased my way back into the world he helped me put back together. And as promised, he was there by my side, every time I closed my eyes and visited Glasgow Street.

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