Cynthia Dewi Oka

For Wanda Maximoff, Who Stands Accused of Necromancy

Yellow spills from her, weaves into the figure of her beloved, proof
that abandonment is something the abandoned can reverse. He is
indestructible as air inside the walls of her wishing, which I must

admit is at once tender and obliterating if brief, like a poem, because
even the most radical of us can hardly tolerate imagining a woman
alive, lovingly, violently, inside a context of her own making, for too

long without feeling robbed; it would be preferable, ethically speaking,
for her to be one of the thousands in the fictive town of Westview,
New Jersey, whose minds were hijacked for her version of events to be

true. I, too, with my small, unreliable powers, have told myself, rewrite
everything. Let me call the men who took from me what I did not agree
to give, Victims of History. Let me call Allegiance the woman who

pressed me to the pounding in her ribs, night after scorpioned night
whispered to me the tale of the mother who ran into a burning house to
save her daughter, or was it the other way around, what I remember is

a face charred beyond recognition, a woman who spends her life hiding it.
I have never owned a house. Before I was a wife, I could fit in less than
an hour, in exactly four boxes, all that I belonged to. Before I was a wife,

I wore other disguises. A smashed telephone. Rain. Rat pacing the city’s
arterial network of shit and electricity under the exertion of cops whose
pits are stained dark with bullying the homeless so they can pay off

their thirty-year mortgages, which, let me call, Conditions of Possibility
in Late American Capitalism. I mean to say, even before I was a wife, I
bound my violence. Retrofitted my vision, if not to be loved, then not to be

thrown away. Perhaps the lesson is visions are fragile things, like faces. I’m
thinking of my sister’s now, its mix of pity and horror that day we found
a gull trapped on the balcony of an apartment I was living in with a man

I had not yet decided to leave; the bird limped, it could not take off, and I,
who always saw my shadow as Her Shield, narrated myself Her Protector,
froze, while she emptied a storage bin, chased the broken bird into it, then

shut the lid. It’s too weak, she said, because she is a scientist and animals
are not metaphors to her. The pack won’t want it. Still, we carried it,
thrashing, down the elevator, across the street, to the park by the bus station,

where other gulls plucked beetles from the grass with yellow beaks.
The walls of my wishing flame up, fall down. I will not call it Strength
anymore. Outside her window, while the world she has built over,

against the one in which she loses and loses and loses, disappears,
Wanda touches the face of her Vision, who after all, is a trick
of her own light. It is nearly the end of summer. I am packing again.

There will be no carrying it all this time. Not my father’s pride, not
my mother’s faith. I choose the violence that is mine, to yellow
anyone’s mind. I mean to say, there will be something I call my life.

Cynthia Dewi Oka

Originally from Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of four books of poems, most recently A Tinderbox in Three Acts (BOA Editions, 2022) and Fire Is Not a Country (Northwestern University Press, 2021). A recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency, Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Oprah Daily, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Hyperallergic, Andscape, and elsewhere. An alumnus of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, New Mexico State University, Blue Stoop, and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Adi Magazine and lives in Los Angeles.