Two Poems

by Lindsay Wilson

A Few Theories on Starlings and Dandelions

The dead spill and drift into the mold-black
earth tugging on the curtain of loss

as the wind stirs their ash-dust into a fist
that unclenches like a dandelion letting go

of its seeds. I have a theory about seeds,
loss and the small birds I’ve introduced

to live off both. I have theories I try
to forget about dandelions, words

and memories I try to pull out whole,
taproot and all. I have theories about herbicide

and the cultivation of non-native species
to eat the dead. I have knelt on the earth

with a trowel and let my digging say,
Don’t come back. My theories aren’t prayers,

aren’t small birds with their low trajectories,
hunger and warbled-faulty song. The dead

have their mouths of ash, their flower-seeds,
the jagged-toothed leaves of dandelions

that always come back waving their goddamn
yellow flags. I have a theory about growth,

about the color yellow, about the hair
and fingernails of the dead still inching out

past the moment of reaching. Are you a body?
Are you ash? Are you a box, a box of ash,

opened and spread thin and merging
with the earth like a seed taking its first step

to root, to growing under my skin like a song
I don’t want to know the words for? And yet

I’m digging in, I’m singing hopelessly along.

 

Gathering Her Ashes

The trees drape their shadows
on the crematorium’s concrete steps

where your emptiness lifts
as you put out your hand

to turn the too-real handle
and feel, as you don’t feel,

the door open and pull away
from you the way the moment

seems to be sliding toward
the buckled-knee feeling of vertigo.

The dizzy dappled shadows spin
at your feet on the uneven steps

where you steady yourself
before another man cradling an urn,

and you both pause,
knowing each others’ chore,

and then you step past him
through the door.

 

Photo credit

About Lindsay Wilson

Lindsay Wilson, an English professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, co-edits the literary journal The Meadow. His first book, No Elegies, won the Quercus Review Press Spring Book Award 2014, and his poetry has appeared in The Minnesota Review, Verse Daily, The Portland Review, Salamander, and The Bellevue Literary Review, among others.

Lindsay Wilson

Lindsay Wilson is online at