Two Poems

Erin Wilson

Fingernails of Grain, Which Kept Safe My Childhood

For my father
after Aleš Šteger

I think there is no learning ahead of me. I think all of the learning to happen is behind me.

You gave the silk of your manness like a white flag. You surrendered. Oh, you gave yourself willingly, nightly, like the moon to the sky.

There were nights beyond the barn—but only in theory.

All else rested nearby, illuminated by your sphere.

We were swollen ticks, glamoured in the thickness of our bedclothes. The rooster quivered once, but it was only a settling of its feathers. The nervous hens closed their eyes and dropped all that was held by their bodies into their laps. Dappled slates, they awaited their fates, while the voracious weasel burrowed meticulously. Everything was in its place, from the forehead, to the furred paws.

The engendering:

  1. Nest inside your body with now's narration: now come here, now shovel shit, now pound some nails. A saga, for instance, is a carrot pulled from the ground when you're hungry.

  2. Hold things: axes, buckets, springs and greasy metal workings, knives, forks, mom, me, the thread fed through the eyes for jigging.

  3. Be—and never worry.

The wheat is poor. Or the wheat is rich. The wheat is enough if parcelled stoically.

 Everything is to be gained.

 All will be lost.

It Happened a Long Time Ago and Keeps Happening

It's happening
right now
and I'm looking at it
but I'm startled
that each day
it could be told
in infinite ways.

For instance, my mother,
at her kitchen table,
is wringing her hands.
The air between us
is gentle. I know her.
And because of my life
I know where she has been.
She addresses the loss.
The cornice of her face
hits the table
alongside the apple pie.
She keeps talking.
I'm very slowly
nodding, yesss.

Or, my mother is excited
by a thin strand of lights
she's strung up
over her kitchen sink.
It's off. She turns it on.
See? she asks hopefully.
I've learned to lie gently
over the years. Oh, I respond,
it's lovely.

But just how many lights
might it take to illuminate
this house as brightly
as she feels she needs to?

A house is made of time.

Even the plastic flowers
on his grave

Erin Wilson's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kestrel, A Journal of Literature and Art, The American Journal of Poetry, The Adirondack Review, San Pedro River Review, The Meadow, The Sunlight Press and Sounding's East Magazine. She lives and writes in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.