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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.

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