The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wider than the Sky by Nancy Chen Long


Altered State at the Grocery Store

By myself at that late hour, I study the uniformed rows—
months and months of potential meals boxed and lining the freezer.
I fling open the glass door. It’s not only the burst of cold
that’s so startling, but a kiss, warm at the nape that makes me

flush, and two arms around my waist pulling me in against
the sleepy memory of one man’s body. There’s no time
to be afraid. The best way to remember is to forget. Glancing
over my shoulder, I recognize the familiar outline

of a face, a quirky grin. Pressed against him, my back is warm,
my face, cold—too close to the frozen door. He hugs me tight.
I feel a rhythmic thud, the battering knot of his heart.
“There are no fres to winnow,” he says as if he’s been gone a while,

which startles me awake. The bedroom window is wide open.
Winter washes over me, frost on the glass pane.

This selection comes from Wider than the Sky, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies (University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, as well as the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work was selected as the winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Robert H. Winner Award and featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Indiana Humanities. She works at Indiana University in the Research Technologies division. nancychenlong.com Follow at @NancyChenLong

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe and the Non-Fiction Editor of Doubleback Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Selkie Literary Magazine, and Writing Class Radio. She’s currently an MFA Nonfiction candidate at Vermont College of Fine Art and lives in Riverview, Florida.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wider than the Sky by Nancy Chen Long


Memory Hole

sitting under a willow
my mother wails
head drooped
and to this day
I let myself feel sometimes
she is instead singing
even though she is not
here hummingbirds hover overhead
around a blue glass feeder
glass over her head one day
thrown against a cedar hollowed
with holes the way she is
hollowed now
cross-legged on the grass
cutting her face
out of all of the family
photos holy holy holy
she sings who was,
and is, and evermore shall be
holding memories in her
hand holing every memory

This selection comes from Wider than the Sky, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies (University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, as well as the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work was selected as the winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Robert H. Winner Award and featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Indiana Humanities. She works at Indiana University in the Research Technologies division. nancychenlong.com Follow at @NancyChenLong

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe and the Non-Fiction Editor of Doubleback Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Selkie Literary Magazine, and Writing Class Radio. She’s currently an MFA Nonfiction candidate at Vermont College of Fine Art and lives in Riverview, Florida.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wider than the Sky by Nancy Chen Long


“Your Brain Doesn’t Contain Memories—It is Memories”

—after Emily Dickinson

Monarch butterflies may take up to five generations to migrate, the
needless veer across Lake Superior etched eons ago into their shared mind.
Had a mountain once been there? Origin is unimportant—avoidance is

the thing recorded. My ancestor’s mountains are mine as well. The deeper
the memory, the less sure its source. A mind can be more like sponge than
machine. I once heard that avoidance flows from father, not mother—the
mouse trained to fear cherry blossoms will mark that fear in his sea

of sperm. Modified DNA, a matter of survival. His offspring for
generations will run in terror of that scent. We humans hold
fast to words. Into a Rolodex of symbols, we accumulate them.
Mother. Father. Yours. Mine. A matter of identity. Language is the blue

chalk of childhood. To remember, we need to be able to name. To name is to
word, & to word is to grant meaning. As a child, words came out of the blue—
those I made up with my sister, then later, with my own children. The

urge to language, any language will do. We are wired to babble—one
person’s syllable is another’s sound. Still, each spring, hummingbirds return to the
missing feeder. In a room in my brain, Mother sings. Father, in another,


says It pays to increase your word power. A new word, confabulation. He & I will
chant it together. I’ll draw a line from it to the room of fabulous fable. We absorb
our parent’s fire the way a sunflower soaks up the sun. Our heads follow light, as

all livings things do. To keep her memory-rooms blameless, a daughter sponges
off the family’s stains, collects & recycles buckets
of water. She scrubs every room clean, the way she’s been taught to do—

This selection comes from Wider than the Sky, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies (University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, as well as the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work was selected as the winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Robert H. Winner Award and featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Indiana Humanities. She works at Indiana University in the Research Technologies division. nancychenlong.com Follow at @NancyChenLong

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe and the Non-Fiction Editor of Doubleback Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Selkie Literary Magazine, and Writing Class Radio. She’s currently an MFA Nonfiction candidate at Vermont College of Fine Art and lives in Riverview, Florida.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wider than the Sky by Nancy Chen Long


Confession

We who go empty-clad
die a little each day,
our backwater bodies too stagnant

for a martyr’s melancholy.
Consolation is too much
a late ship. Never the strange

fires here, only moonseed
and hemlock. Only a bereft people
who cling to a thing once worshipped.

O idols, worshipped idols. It is because of you
that I never went to sea.

This selection comes from Wider than the Sky, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies (University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, as well as the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work was selected as the winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Robert H. Winner Award and featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Indiana Humanities. She works at Indiana University in the Research Technologies division. nancychenlong.com Follow at @NancyChenLong

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe and the Non-Fiction Editor of Doubleback Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Selkie Literary Magazine, and Writing Class Radio. She’s currently an MFA Nonfiction candidate at Vermont College of Fine Art and lives in Riverview, Florida.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wider than the Sky by Nancy Chen Long


Anniversary

She catches glimpses of you every year on this day
playing in the sugarcane fields. You are always by yourself.
She calls out your name, running in every direction, searching for
a brother who has been lost for fifty years.
Playing in the sugarcane fields, you are always by yourself,
running barefoot in the mud, carrying something in your hand.
Dear brother who has been lost for fifty years,
she’s spotted you a hundred times
wandering barefoot in the mud with a secret in your hand.
But she never finds you.
She’s spotted you a hundred times—
your small shadow in a clearing of cane or in a hint between the stalks.
But she never finds you.
Still, twins share a mind, and she is certain
of your shadow in a small clearing, an inkblot of you between the green stalks.
I would burn joss sticks at the altar for you. But she says no, you are
still here. Twins share a mind, and she is certain.
She calls out for you, searching in every direction.
I would burn joss sticks at the family altar. Sister says no. You are
in the cane fields. She catches glimpses of you every year.

This selection comes from Wider than the Sky, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies (University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, as well as the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work was selected as the winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Robert H. Winner Award and featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Indiana Humanities. She works at Indiana University in the Research Technologies division. nancychenlong.com Follow at @NancyChenLong

Nilsa Rivera Castro writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe and the Non-Fiction Editor of Doubleback Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Selkie Literary Magazine, and Writing Class Radio. She’s currently an MFA Nonfiction candidate at Vermont College of Fine Art and lives in Riverview, Florida.