Work in Progress

Here’s something new I’ve been toying with. I think maybe the title is too heavy for the poem, but the previous title was “In the Woods,” and that wasn’t enough. I hate titles. Can I be Emily Dickinson and rely on the first line of each poem as the title? When I am dead and suddenly famous, y’all can chronologically order my poetry in a collected works and give them numbers. No more titles.

Knowledge of Good and Evil

I show my children the Mayapple,
lift its waxen umbrella for their eyes
to see its single flower. My mother’s
faraway warning steers us away
from three-leafed vines with a red dot
in the center. I use her firm grip
to turn my curious pair from their itch
to explore the woods beyond the path.
She told me, too, which berries
could be eaten on the border
of the forest where we scavenge
between the pin oaks, lift branches
heavy with the ripest fruit.

Maybe someday we will walk
through the shadows in the lane
of pines and my son will stop,
stoop down to lift an unknown
to me, give me a new world.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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