Emily Hyland


A Swag of Flowers by Jan van Walscapelle

And we rarely get into it anymore
occasional anodyne spats
over usual things—
why to use the blinker
why not to wear red hats
why wine with a foil cap
is not for drinking a week on the counter
or with ice cubes

She wanted cohesive, and we
clawed unnecessary talons

so it becomes the flow of her afterlife
we are charged with certain tasks:

to be kind like fruit-producing vines
berry on berry, wet juice
and wet juice on palms

gratuitous and red, open—but also:
to select and hold a handful
of lifelong and meaningful grudges.

I mean ones with thorns

grudges until dust hits coffin lid
and still curse a name through teeth
that macerate blackberries
and raspberries in an open field
sunburned skin red as venom
and the preternatural sweet
taste of a living thing—


About the writer:
Emily Hyland’s poetry has appeared in Apple Valley Review, The Brooklyn Review, Mount Hope Magazine, and The Virginia Normal, among others. She received her MFA in poetry and her MA in English education from Brooklyn College. Her cookbook, Emily: The Cookbook, was published by Ballantine Books in 2018.

Image: A Swag of Flowers by Jacob van Walscapelle (1644-1727). Oil on canvas. 23.6 x 32.6 inches. 1670s. Public domain.