because every year the salt-coloured field
of ice glides over the lake’s silent body outside
my window like an unmarked tombstone.
because i will never know how many carcasses
of fish have sunken to its bottom, never to resurface:
each silver scale another forgotten reprieve.
in bed—the gibbous moon’s soft etchings strewn
across bare legs—i think of every body being born
for death: mine, the smelt’s in the shallow end. how
in each of us, there is an iron pool of blood
that wants to bloom into a garden the way Monet’s
water lilies were wept river-like onto canvas
in one sitting, only to dry up: the fractured colour
meant to prove the rippling light was real. i have hung
painting after painting in attempt at self-persuasion.
i do not know the difference between all that
is real and all the small, writhing animals that hide
beneath every lonely woman’s laden tongue
caressing a clove cigarette, lit tip fading the way
a flute pleads for someone else’s air. for my silence
to be called symphony instead of wound pried open.
al niente: someone please tell me the difference
between the water lilies and the water lilies:
between an instrument’s breath and my own
Rachael Lin Wheeler is currently a student attending Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her writing and photography have been recognized by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her poetry appears in various publications. Serving as the editorial assistant for EX/POST MAGAZINE, Rachael Lin is also the founder and editor of Vox Viola Literary Magazine—an intersectional feminist publication—which can be found at https://voxviola.com. She is prone to 2 am laundry folding.