Mea Culpa Elegy
I thought I could hone my mind until
intellect and emotion were
a single organ. The way a snake’s motion
comes from the musculature
of its entire body, and when it moves
there is no part of it that
has not moved.
I wanted to make you
something beautiful. As if I could
strike a branch against a word and make it
break into water: each syllable round,
and clenching, and then letting go finally
what it sought to claim.
In year twenty of the Republic of Mercy there came to be built
a glass-bottomed boat that could fit half the people
of the nation, exactly half. In it you could
travel, go places, see fish in their many-finned splendor.
Above: a large wood dome. Flat, dark,
the bodies fitted into each space like coins in a slot.
I took the boat for many rotations, traveled in my sleep,
marveled at the ingenuity of the burrs that turned,
always propelling the thing forward, not leaving us to rest.
Below: the infinite world,
all its ligaments, all its creatures.
“The Other [In year twenty of the Republic…]” and “Mea Culpa Elegy” from Republic of Mercy, published by Tupelo Press, copyright 2018 Sharon Wang. Used with permission.