Lucy Wainger


This will be my last life.      Finally mountains

are mountains again: ridges on the surface

of a viscous liquid      a river with its footsteps.

When my mother reaches for the next branch

I will walk out from between her ribs

like a breath.      Half of me will point

to the sky (pink illusion) and half

to the earth (ruptured plate), leave nothing

for the moon.      It’s fun to make up

names for things      then forget them.

Blooms the size of my face: rhododendron.

Rhododendron in the winter: wither. We get both

and I want neither—no tit, no teeth.

When my mother reaches for the next branch

I will walk into my last body: a finger of light

bending back on itself      a finger pointing, pointing.

I hate how light breaks into too many colors.

I hate how many names for things I don’t un-remember.

Everything hurts until it feels good      then it stops

hurting. If it doesn’t hurt, it will. That’s what I want:

a way out of wanting      a way out.

This will be the last time I know the difference

between out and way. When I am ready, I will walk.

Lucy Wainger is author of the forthcoming chapbook In Life There Are Many Things (Black Lawrence Press, 2023), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems appear or will appear in Best American Poetry, DIAGRAM, The Margins, POETRY, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. She grew up in New York City and is currently an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst.