Poems

ELLEN WELCKER
The Crossing

Customs was not a huge fan 
of my wolf head, I imagined. 
Wanted to know, was my bear 
spray yay big or yay big. 
It was a cute stop:
Poet fills cupholder 
with sun golds 
and hits the road. 
My power felt innocent. 
One of the ways we mis-
understand oceans is sperm 
whales. They have a genetic
memory that is 100,000 
years old. Ice caps 
still blocked all exits. 
When he asked how often 
I bridged this border
I smiled and said, 
‚Äúnot often enough.‚Ä̬†
My power, as I said, 
felt indolent. Still giddy 
from the crossing 
so dark it was as if 
a bear-shaped hole 
strode before me, 
long and unhurried, 
sucking up matter and light. 
My power was torpid. 
Bloated. My power was 
oily, I braked with my toe. 
What happened next 
was that I opened
the box. There was no 
bottom. On and on
it went, a shaft 
not of light 
but absence. 
A hole entire, 
an endless o, a nothing
so substantial it simply 
became. Afraid if I looked
it would steal my sight. 
Afraid if I entered
it would steal my life. 
My power, my only power
was fear. A whale, 
as you know, is a wolf 
that walked back in. 
You must wonder, as I do
if my memory 
will kick in. If it is limited
to my current form 
or if by chance it goes back‚ÄĒ
that sunk in the soft pink 
coils of my head coral 
there exists, 
there maintains, 
there belies‚ÄĒ
I crawled out too. 
When they say my body
is 60% water, it is ocean 
they mean. In the place 
we are going, I am anything
you can do with a cloud. 
At the crossing, my power 
was all over my face, 
was oceanic, a whole 
entire, and customs
said nothing, said have a good trip.

Ellen Welcker is the author of Ram Hands (Scablands Books, 2016), The Botanical Garden (2009 Astrophil Poetry Prize, Astrophil Press, 2010), and several chapbooks, including “The Pink Tablet” (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018), which she and her collaborators adapted into a multi-genre live performance they called a feral opera. She lives in Spokane, WA.