"One of the strange things about poets is the way they keep warm by writing to one another all over the world."

Virgil Thomson

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featured in this issue.

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The Sonnet Scroll

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Ms. Joyce Wilson

Joyce Wilson

Collector of Guns

His was the lot of a family of five women.
We sensed how gingerly he walked
through the well-managed quasi-mansion.
He had to keep his temper in check.

His guns–muskets, pistols, single barrels–
hovered on wooden, hand-made blocks
in his study and above the stairs.
His favorite was an old matchlock.

In his mind he kept a treasure trove
of stories about Buffalo Bill's longest run
as Custer with the Wild West Show
where the Indians always won.

My mother encouraged us,
three girls in ankle socks and mary janes,
to challenge the verity of his omnibus.
We danced around him like jumping beans.

He claimed to be hard of hearing
and offered us a businessman's smile,
officious above his military bearing:
that squared, blue-suited guile.

We knew he was concealing something
about his life, but we didn't know what.
"He never tells us anything!"
Mom would say. My aunts would tut tut tut.

We clamored for an unexpurgated version.
Perhaps he kept a secret diary.
Unemployment, war, the Depression!
With his will, an unfinished family tree.

To inspect the contents of the safe,
my mother forced the bolt.
Behind a false wall and cobbled leaf,
she found a loaded Colt.


Allium

In the garden, I began to lose myself
in the repetition of the deed,

grasping the trowel and pushing it
into the bed of allium bulbs,

the benign kitchen herb of the domestic,
grown gnarled and horrific,

so long ignored they no longer bloomed.
I hurried as I worked, anticipating

the arrival of my mother–the quiet click
of the car door, the peal of her anxious voice–

who gardened by the book or expert advice,
whose arrangements formed the table's centerpiece,

a topic of conversation to smooth over
that difficult special occasion.

Would she understand that these were the dusty
nuggets of the ordinary, the overlooked?

Suddenly, millions of bulbs spilled
from the garden's crust like innards

from a dry wound. I reached
with my bare hands to gather them in

and soon filled half a bucket,
soon had enough to fill a field.

I looked up to see my mother standing above me,
wreathed in sunspots, black on red.