Wendi Lee was born and raised in Honolulu, and has lived in Kentucky, New York City, and Pittsburgh. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She has work published in Karamu, Plainsongs, Oyez Review, Fox Cry Review, Inkwell, Common Ground Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Roanoke Review, The Portland Review, Weave Magazine, 34th Parallel, and Hawai’i Pacific Review.
A Quiet Almost Lost
for my Father
We walked at dusk, a quiet
almost lost in the future
of phone calls and hospital sheets.
We walked down
cooling streets, rush hour evaporated
into empty rows of lawn,
sprinkler left to wet the sidewalk
in rotating arcs.
Plumeria trees, a patch of mint
where grass should be. We wore
matching sweatshirts, gray,
with zippers down the front and hoods
we never used. We must have looked alike,
ambling past Hunakai Street, past
an old woman hunched low
over her yard work. Perhaps she recognized
the sameness pressed into our faces.
Was the resemblance still there,
years later? You shrunk down to child’s size,
no more nervous system,
no more legs
for long neighborhood walks.
The Dead, My Heart
The dead gather in the living room
of my dreams, refusing
forest green cushions,
the couch stretched
like a long, thoughtless cruise.
They have been sitting forever —
they wish to stand.
Their voices like sparrows,
dancing in the limbs
of a wintered tree.
I wait for the wisdom prised away
but the dead find
interest only in living.
They caress the knotted bones
at my wrist, tangle
in my hair.
They pass around my heart,
chattering in wonder at its clench
remembering the skipped beats,
timpani of fear,
symphony of lust, the slow
Father, in your narrow hallways
I am still lost,
The dust falling from thick green curtains
You used to shut out the miracles
Of sunlight. Once you stood on the porch
In a shirt stained thick with red,
My hair dye, the blood
We couldn’t see, to keep
Her from looking inside.
Linoleum cold under my feet, I ran
Past the cat hiding in a dollhouse
For the pursuits of growing up.
I ran every night down the hallway
From bathroom to the safe glow
Of television commercials
And ice cubes melting into Coca-Cola.
Sometimes you looked up
To laugh at me, but more often than not
You didn’t look.
And some part of me is still running.