self-portrait as alice in wonderland

by Esther Ra



the art of disappearance is easy to craft           & words distance
as well as describe           white keys          bruise bloom every
blessing & blow              a surprise               I had yet to name all of my
tears       my eyes are still flooded           with childhood               & I
am not the quickest of learners               I chew on pebbles
as if they were sand        I mistook myself [again] as a savior
I mother my mother      I hide from my father               how hard
to unsmog every window       today     I label each wound
with blue tape                 I mark miraculous       rabbit holes down
I mean what I say           but don’t say what I mean       which is to say
I’m still learning             still young           still hopelessly lost
O God               are you here       in this dreamland of dormice
and murderous queens           or are you just a rosegarden
slathered in red paint   O a cat without grin | a grin without cat
I see the bright smile   not the claws     & my friend—
how are girls mad & courageous enough to still love
after this           all this                 after men     [eat me to enter]
no door is worth all this             shrinking               & I’ll be here
though Wonderland fade           goodbye             whiteknight
goodbye           dear old friend               every unbirthday
I tremble & toast         with tealeaf         every day
I am mad          wonderful                       & reborn



Esther Ra is the author of book of untranslatable things (Grayson Books, 2018), which received first place in the 2018 Grayson Books Chapbook Contest. Her work has also been published in Rattle, The Scriblerus, and Consequence Magazine, where her poetry received the 2017 Women Writing War Poetry Award. She alternates between Washington and her home in Seoul, South Korea.

Back to Vol. IV: “Wonder”