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Picture 10999392, image copyright © Medici / Mary Evans

Dark Wood
by Jacqueline Schaalje


What if there was a neat little boscage,
tucked away and unplugged, where you’d be lost
so you could be your anonymous self,
kicking acorns or picking them up?

You’d fashion them into stick men that jigged
on your knee, away from the sorrow of real men.
Perhaps an entire month you could tramp,
camp out with rogue fire, dig illegal leeks —

until the code got cracked
that entered you here after those captchas;
copying an overlong string of digits:
if you made a typo you’d be counting down

staring at a reverse clock for a full ten minutes.
By pure coincidence they hit upon that same string.
Almost gave up – boy, are they mulish.
Shh, there, behind you, shuffling through

scrap leaves. Live out your freest impulses.
Well, you can’t catch all of them.
Forgetful jays planted half of these woods.
You buried your man.


© Jacqueline Schaalje
Picture 10999392, image copyright © Medici / Mary Evans


Jacqueline Schaalje has published poetry and short fiction, most recently in The Comstock Review, The Friday Poem, and Pembroke Magazine. She’s the winner of the Florida Review Editor’s Prize 2022, and was a finalist in a few competitions, among which Live Canon’s and Alpine Fellowship. She participated in the Fall 2022 W2W mentoring program of AWP. She is a translation editor at MAYDAY. She earned her MA in English from the University of Amsterdam.

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