Today I looked at various prompts about looking at things from different angles, and I kept coming back to Emerald City again. This started out as a poem about Tip/Ozma – a character with two names, two sides, two stories, two genders. But the particular scene I was writing about brought to mind another Oz character, so I wrote a second part about Saint Aelphaba, based on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Tales Told in Oz. The title is the name of a lake in Oz.
I wake underwater, eyes blurred, mind clear. I don’t worry
about drowning though my skirts tug heavy
at my hips.
Once, in my other life, I held my breath and slipped
into the lukewarm bath to test if I could wash away this body and surface
as someone new. But no scars vanished
when I rose.
I force myself up towards the light and while my body
is unchanged, something inside is, new voices straining
to come out and scream, echoing, about all the ways we’ve
been done wrong.
I move slower now, water streaming
from my skirts. I don’t dry myself. The wet wants
to come with me. Up and up, surfacing, seeking the hands
that carried me to the water and
let me go.
I sleep under the falls, water
falling, falling, spray
tucked about me, blanket and shield.
A girl needs protection and moats
are hard to come by. The falls,
this cave, a blessing.
A river turns, tumbling,
tumbling over stones,
through stones, carving
a space large enough for one.
My home, my sanctuary. Someday
I will wish to see the world
dry and undistorted but
for now I’m drifting, drifting,
safe behind the water, safe.