/emily paige wilson

Appropriate Poisons for a Nursery

From every poison can be pruned a lesson, worth its gilded frame and place above a cradle.

Stinging Nettle: The gargoyle of wild grass.
Each tree leaning towards
the meanest secret.

Foxglove: It’s never too early to prepare
for labor. A pain management plan.
Even toddlers understand
the sinus pull and drain of pollen.

Nightshade: The moon will not want to discuss
her résumé, but you’ll notice each
time lapse marked by darkness.
What did she do in that space?
Darned socks. Tucked children into toxins.

From every plant unfolds a fable, every fairy tale toxic as topiary. Yet no matter how hard parents try to tempt fate towards gentleness, there will always be a rose-scented scene in which a daughter stands, asking a man, Why?

Japanese Umbrella Pine

The trail is unmarked and we cannot find it.
It takes the splayed animal carcass; the litter
of shot gun shells and firework canisters,
all cardboard and glitter; the row of apples
shot through and rotting to turn us around.

We drive instead to the arboretum.
Rubbed between fingers, the needles
of the Japanese Umbrella Pine smell
like dill. The wisteria, like wisteria.

In a field of clover, the search for
four leaves, we try to describe grass
to our grandchildren forty years
into the future. It grew from the ground.
So did buildings.

It’s organic?

Now ‘hope’—imagine
how hard that would be
to explain.

So I take the imaginary
children—the opposites of ghosts—
lilac-outlined and translucent—
to the garden’s fountain. Show them
the pennies in the green-moss
bottom of the wishing well, but all I see
are the copper exoskeletons of those shot gun shells.

Emily Paige Wilson is the author of the forthcoming full-length collection Jalubí (Unsolicited Press, 2022) and two chapbooks: Hypochondria, Least Powerful of the Greek Gods (Glass Poetry Press, 2020) and I’ll Build Us a Home (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. Connect with her at www.emilypaigewilson.com and @Emmy_Golightly.