May/June 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 3 |

You’re Hoarding Guns, I’m Growing Herbs

my sister tells my father after he bends
                         to pluck from her patch
of pennyroyal, age-old abortifacient from mint’s

family, square-stemmed, toxic, crested
                         like a tropical bird with morning-purple
tuft, and he straightens, says, You giving away abortions now?

Later, she writes me, I think he understood.
                         And yet I cannot say what
unholy act, what cruel law or deed does not endeavor

to protect something. Not so very long ago,
                         my sister could have
hanged as a witch for her wilderness gardens

of nettle and hyssop, of yarrow and calendula,
                         her care for forbidden bodies and
snaring of bee swarms from pine branches.

Come spring, she’ll find in the wet death-refreshed
                         loam spent shotgun shells planted
among saved seed of belladonna, mugwort, blue cohosh,

Queen Anne’s lace — named, so the lore goes,
                         for the old queen’s contest
to see who could knit a stitched bloom most like

the flower’s fractal tooth-white face, though
                         she pricked her finger as she purled,
loosed a single drop dark onto her own lace’s clean new eye.

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Corrie Williamson is the author of the poetry collections The River Where You Forgot My Name (Crab Orchard Series/Southern Illinois University Press, 2019), a finalist for the Montana Book Award, and Sweet Husk (Perugia Press, 2014). Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Southern Review, Common, Copper Nickel, and 32 Poems. Williamson lives in Montana, where she is working on her third manuscript, Your Mother’s Bear Gun.

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