“The Nightly Villanelle of Their Twelfth Year” by Shangrila Willy

Shangrila Willy


She lies awake and aches
for him. Beside her, he snores,
longs for her to wake

him with a touch, to shake
them from the dream of her
in which she lies and aches

for someone else to take
the thing that once before
he longed for that will not wake

from sleep or let them slake
their longing for each other.
She lies awake and aches

for them, for the dream that breaks
them in two, that lies like a door
along their creasing. Wake

up—she tries to make
the shape of words, call for
the lie to wake them—she aches.
He longs for her to wake.

from Rattle #46, Winter 2014
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Shangrila Willy: “There is an apocryphal story in my family that limns a four-year-old me standing in the backyard composing poems to the trees. I’m sure they were terrible, terrible poems, but picture it as the first scene of a love story written, horrifically, by Nicholas Sparks. In the last scene, Poetry and I die together on my bed of pain having overcome consumption and the bar exam and also zombie robots. It is both a bright, sunlit day and pouring rain. In writing this poem, I wanted to evoke the narrow space of the bed in which my two hapless protagonists touch but do not touch, and to do so I pried two feet of width from the form. The result was like pirouetting in a very small closet—claustrophobic, secret, dizzying, exhilarating.” (website)

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