"Wilde" Kristi Wilson
Poem With Ingredient of Wild Onion
It should be law to lower your windows
when you first see the ocean
or spot the smoke of a campfire.
It should be mandatory
to tilt your head slightly upward
and allow one hand to waft in the sweet smell.
When I was little I would dig wild onions
from the neighbor’s pasture.
They were easy to spot in the grass
manicured by cows, horses, and deer.
The long strong tops stood higher,
greener than the grass
and smelled clean and rich.
With my mother’s spade
I would dig three bunches
and return home to tie them together
with ribbon I was supposed to wear in my hair.
Their stems gathered in a white knot
and, further down, the bulbs
smelled fresh and rough and proud.
But it was the same every time:
before I could hang the last one she found me
and made me take the onions outside,
wash my hands, give her back her spade.
I still get the most delicate of perfumes
every year for my birthday –
honeysuckle, gardenia, tea rose.
I remember returning south to Georgia
and leaning out toward the sky
to smell the trees:
their sap and moss and bark.
I remember realizing how the smell of roses
trying to cover up wild onion
can torture more than a nose.
It can make you ask the driver
to roll down all the windows.
It can make you think something
has gone terribly wrong.
The Day I Was Buried
I realized the reason
the A Field is slightly
raised in the middle:
I knew why I could never
be a mermaid,
no matter what sort of rope
I used to tie my legs
together with at the lake.
I discovered why some people
are mean, always, and mad,
why some are good with words,
some with their hands.
I found out why big crosses
are made of wood
and small ones of metal and clay.
And I saw you there:
soft grass, dark linen,
fingers like mine.
I smelled your smell,
the back of your neck
as you wash dishes,
sweat and detergent.
It was so nice for you to hold me
and then my hand as we walked away.
Leslie Wortman's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Smartish Pace, Main Street Rag, and Marr's Field Journal. She is pursuing an MFA at Georgia State University where she teaches English Composition and Creative Writing.