Chelsea Wagenaar

Essay: Domestic
July 9, 2014 Wagenaar Chelsea

Essay: Domestic


  1.   Brassiere

Unclasped; thin straps slipping

down my arms, I notice

the areolar bruise

my nipples have pressed

inside the empty cupola

of pale charmeuse.


I rub a thumb over the smudge.

But no smear—I’m duplicated,

indelible.  By day

you are a darkroom

developing the print

of me.  By night, my body

darkens even the drawers

that keep you.


  1.   Trumpet Vine

Orange thickly peppered

with terraces of ants:

slow, inscrutable ellipses.

What omission of yours—

what pause—do they

punctuate?  You ascend

the aged picket shafts

more faithfully than the sun,

gramophone heads

stoic, bleating their silent burn

from hue to hue. Omission?

No.  You, punctuated?

You punctuate—

brilliant gasps of ochre

between the small darks.


  1.   Piano

Damned thing.  All that tension

borne up for centuries, hidden

hammers in merciless suspension

over strings.  Eighty-eight unbidden


throats, dancerless stages.  Cold

shoulder, my lady of never-speaking-

unless-spoken-to-first, I should

have learned from you that touching


breaks even the most formidable

quiet.  I’ll come again, as one

who moves with hunger to table,

and ruin you into sound.

Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of Mercy Spurs the Bone (Anhinga Press, 2015), winner of the 2013 Philip Levine Prize for poetry.  Her poems have appeared or been accepted recently in Crab Orchard, Fugue, and the Southeast Review.  She is a doctoral fellow in poetry at the University of North Texas and lives in Denton, Texas, with her husband, fellow poet Mark Wagenaar.