“Considering Their Pale Faces” and other poems by Erin Wilson


tōgarashi / omoikonasaji / mono no tane
the red pepper / I do not belittle / seedlings
~ Bashō

I keep a chestnut
in the breast pocket of my secondhand leather jacket.
When I picked it I thought of (I don’t know why) my mother.

The last time my first husband and I made love
I knew my womb, because of my mind, was tipped at such an angle
that no seed would germinate  there.

This is also a true story.
Our children and I collected acorns to use for a project we had not yet imagined.
They exploded into weevil larvae all over the floor.


A Letter to My Ex Concerning Houseleeks

I retrieve the hens and chicks,
reminiscent of farms,
from my sister’s yard

and press them to the dirt
in the small half-circle
we dig in our own yard

and then leave them there
to grow and separate


The Mother

The last bladder is emptied,
the last gleek shot into the sink,
the last struggling out of and into,
the last — somewhat grooming,
the last sandwich flogged to its plastic compartment,
the last backpack retrieved from the floor,
the last gangly stumbling,
the last repeated good day utterance, love you, etc.,
the last kicking of the front door.

The mother is alone.
The house stands still for a moment
in its terrible shock of silence.
Then shakes off its cold blanket.
The mother leans into herself like tilted kindling,
a neanderthal, or philosopher returned to her cave.
She begins to make the fire.
It doesn’t matter what she makes the fire with.
The mother burns.

Considering Their Pale Faces

Fact: the manageable size of the baby paradise rose, with pinkish-lavender 1 - 1 1/2" blooms, offers
a small garden big potential.

Experiential: we planted a few along the border of the garden we created with the edge of a shovel
outside the kitchen window, when we bought the family home.

Fact: even miniature roses are susceptible to the same plagues as their larger cousins.

Experiential: while you children toddled about, slipping happily in leaf rot, then swung on the tire
swing, or later, hammered in the tree fort, I leaned toward the tiny leaves and scraped fat rose slugs
into a tin can, or sometimes brazenly squashed them with a thumb nail.

Fact: for years the paradise rose struggled, and eventually, I left your father.

Considering Their Pale Faces and other poems are © Erin Wilson

Erin Wilson has contributed poems to The Adirondack Review, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, and Minola Review, with work forthcoming from The American Journal of Poetry, Juked and Kestrel. She lives and writes in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.

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