Featured: Newlyweds, First Night

W. Vandoren Wheeler
Read the poem below:

My first time
on a motorcycle,
just after I found
the heft and swoop
of its balance, a wasp
struck, clung to,
then crawled inside
my sunglasses.
As I wobbled the machine
onto the narrow
shoulder, the insect straddled
my left eyeball. Its legs inter-
laced with my lashes.

I can still see, but
every other thin thing
looks half wasp.

My new wife, mid-sentence,
walked out—our first night
apart. I can’t sleep.
I tangle our sheets imagining
her swerving, bleary-eyed,
through our neighborhood,
through a guardrail…
Insect feet prick
my eyelids as the lights
of an ambulance I imagine
carrying her to the quiet
hospital bed I’ll wait
beside until she wakes.

I hate that
I want her
even sort of
hurt, but

it cuts away the stained
clothes she agonizes over.
Our bodies know each other.

Since my lips re-
member her skin,
I can imagine it torn…

Let’s admire these carefully
arranged flowers together!

I am sick in so many ways.

I ask our imaginary
nurse for extra gauze,
and I bind my eyes.
author photo VanW. Vandoren Wheeler has been published in H_ngM_n, Lunch Ticket, Clackamas Literary Review, Forklift, DMQ Review, and Swink. His manuscript The Accidentalist won the Dorothy Brunsman Prize and was published by Bear Star Press in late 2012. He has an English/Spanish dual BA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. He currently teaches in Portland, Oregon.