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Wendy Xu

Going Home

When you are the last person
at a party or when you
are the last person in America
the feeling is the same and old
and yellow, like a hat-box
that triumphs
by remaining empty.
Emptiness is my only
viable skill. A poet
is not a book
a poet writes. But somebody
authors this wilderness
you wake up inside that much
is true. In general
the trees are not personal.
The trees are shapes
we don’t diminish.


I put the batter in the oven so that it
will become a cake soon and whatever
makes the morning worthwhile
it is some version
of this waiting. All the bees
in the garden are asleep in their tiny
striped jackets. Some spinach
wilting in a bowl, my water is sloshing
like a tiny blue ocean back
and forth in the glass. Everything
is a little bit quiet now.
My neighbor likes to start
his day by standing naked
in the kitchen and to the light
that catches on some surfaces
ask What happens next?
I am waiting for my most
correct moment to speak.
To say that earlier
your shoulder blade was a ship
pushed out from the pale harbor
of your body
which in a way must have caused
those three red birds on the sill
to sing of your coming home
but of course I
am only just kidding.

Wendy Xu
is the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 2013) and two chapbooks: The Hero Poems (H_NGM_N) and I Was Not Even Born (Coconut 2013). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Gulf Coast, Verse Daily, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor and publisher of iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books, and lives in Northampton, MA. extrahumanarchitecture.tumblr.com