Rachael Lin Wheeler

In Which I Try to Make More Gentle My Revolt Against My Own Smallness

Imagine building dutifully a staircase to a room no one would find, 
including you. The body’s drift through waking hours can feel like this.

Last year I took a midday August walk along the promenade encircling 
the lake and the sun was glorious. I know I was supposed to be

happy. A friend paused, gestured to three stone steps wedged
into the hillside, leading nowhere, and we laughed at the absurdity.

Afterward: a dinner when I, surrounded by those I love, cradled
my silences, betraying no one—but myself. How to keep language

or its cold absence from devouring me. A window through what it reveals
announces itself, unflinching. I am here, I am, I promise my oblivious

shadow. Look at how the light makes beautiful the air’s once hidden
dust without touching it. Some sadnesses are unfixable during their stay

in the body but still fade. Say one day I find, if not the room’s interior,
a window to it; say, inside, a mirror I call to, telling the figure within

to look me in the eyes, and it does, remembering. 

Rachael Lin Wheeler’s work appears in The West Review, Ghost City Review, and SOFTBLOW, among others. A 2020 and 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, finalist for Tinderbox Poetry Journal’s Brett Elizabeth Jenkins and Majda Gama Editors’ Prizes, and recipient of the Howard Nemerov Writing Scholarship from Washington University in St. Louis, RL can be found on Twitter @rachaellin_ or at rachaellinwheeler.com.