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On The Most Terrifying Character in the Wizard of Oz

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 ticking

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.

from Neck of the WoodsFind more by Amy Woolard at the library

Copyright © 2020 Amy Woolard
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Amy Woolard Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.