I Am Constantly Seeking Reassurance
My thoughts are homeless & stealthy.
They make an orange moat
of my tongue,
constellation of moans that would confuse
farmers’ crops into growing
Please tell me
I am not
Kaleidoscopic eyes across which
glide dissolved specks of proteins,
lilac & laughing. My boyfriend
can only reassure me
so many times before trees grow
in his ears,
their roots forming his red
He won’t be able to answer my calls
until half past
fall, when the humidity
drops & the leaves
are bullied from their branches.
Then it returns & burrows,
nocturnal animal that anxiety is.
I am a constant crying
Prague in my hands.
My ancestors would pass by
& not share coins with my waters
had they any coins to spare.
The spots first appeared like smoke
in my eyes—looking up into the blue
of Chicago sky line. Thin haze
that raised itself like a hand every time
I glanced up. We were on a boat, touring
the city’s rebuilt insides, all this new
architecture after its first body
was wrecked by fire—a designer
that drafts, then redrafts completely.
I wanted to cry—convinced I was going
blind or that my retina had torn.
A woman dropped her purse off the boat.
We rowed past so much steel and glass
before we could maneuver a turn
to where the black bag bobbed, soaked
My doctor later said—as long as there had been
no flash—I was fine. Could learn
to look past the shadows that moved
over the lens of my eye—graybrown
wisps, iridescent strings trying to slip
into the shape of some letter or straight line.
To always focus on something just past
what I was actually looking at.
For the last three days before we left
Illinois, I practiced a quiet panic.
I read online message boards, knowing
it was a horrible choice. A fear
fermented in all those posts—most people
convinced they were seeing ghosts. Others
argued the spots were angels, their line of
sight crossed and co-opted by something divine.
On the top of the webpage, a message:
PLEASE, NO MEDICIAL ADVICE.
WE TAKE THIS SPIRITUAL MATTER
SERIOUSLY. I can’t tell if this impulse
to interpret the body’s basic composition
coming up short—the desire to rebuild
the city bigger and better once
the redorange ballet of flames has ended—
is better or worse, curse or just messy
storytelling in its most human form.
To look past a shadow and seek.
Emily Paige Wilson’s debut chapbook I’ll Build Us a Home is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and three Pushcart Prizes. Her work can be found in The Adroit Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, PANK, and Thrush, among others. She lives in Wilmington, NC, where she received her MFA from UNCW, and works as an English adjunct.