On the Most Terrifying Character in the Wizard of Oz

posted May 10, 2016

It's not the part where he tells you
He has no heart. It's not when he

Tells you how much he wants one,
How everything until just now has been

Frozen for him in time, how the trees all
Seem so sour, & territorial, all while he hefts

That gleaming axe. It's not his silver tongue
Or how the tears fell like clockwork, then

Sawdust. It's not how he so casually walked off
The job that day, knowing he would follow

You anywhere. If only someone had thought
To change the music just as you asked him

To join you, a Theremin, or some low-octave piano.
If only you hadn't run after so much disaster.

It's one kind of weapon to be able to tell a girl
A story; it's another kind to be able to walk her

Home. It's not even the way he tried to breathe
Those flowers deep into his tin lungs just so he could

Sleep beside you, dreaming of how his clicking
Heart would be the alarm that wakes you,

How his creaking arms would be the ones
To build you a house that stayed put.

It's the way he looks at you, the way he thinks
He's loved you since before you even first

Arrived here in front of him, hungry for
Apples that weren't even his to give you.

Amy Woolard is a writer and public policy attorney working on foster care, juvenile justice, poverty, and homelessness issues in Virginia. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her poems have appeared/are forthcoming in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Fence, and in the Best New Poets anthologies, among others. She has been awarded poetry prizes by Indiana Review and Puerto del Sol. Amy's essays have run on Slate, Pacific Standard, The Rumpus, Indiewire, and elsewhere.

She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Woolard’s poem “We Will Have Wanted to Have” also appears in this issue.