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“Bottle Tree,” A Poem by Amy Susan Wilson

In Arts & Letters, Creative Writing, Humanities, Poetry, Writing on August 15, 2012 at 8:45 am

Amy Susan Wilson is a writer living in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University and her work has appeared in the Southern Literary Review, Southern Women’s Review, Red River Review, and other journals.

Bottle Tree

My Nanna’s backyard elm

outfitted with blue, red

green glass bottles

tied with chicken wire the width

of a hen’s beak

to each branch.


            Scarin’ crows away,

Gram’s explained.

Wind chimes hung like gaudy ear bobs

from lobes of lower branches:

a lady bug with silver spoons,

that copper kettle adorned with

aqua beads, a faded red tin cup,

the kind hobos carry

while riding the rail.


Each sunset

those Blue Nun bottles

soft purple

like a mood ring

or Goddess moon from Jupiter.

          Mama back at Griffin,

I’d sigh,

run my palm

down the spine

of charcoal bark.


I never told Nanna,

kids at school

just Ruby-Lucille

me winning

a big red Escalade

Firelake Casino

someday I would—


Mama and me

we’d chomp green M&Ms

all the way to California,

big blue ice chest

the kind with wheels

loaded with biscuits

Pepsi, Paydays

strawberry ice cream bars galore.


Grams calls Griffin

          A  nerve hospital

           A mini-vacation from life.


Church ladies whisk


salisbury steak

Sunday afternoons,

          Grams too old to handle a child

          This stage of life

          All by herself.



Mrs. Harlan Dodge Simpson

presses a green bean casserole,

Old Testament

coloring book

to my palms


lambs, cows

slaughtered on an altar,

carnation red crayon

for blood

twelve pack Crayola.


Ruby Lucille always waits,


those bottles

clink like diamond bracelets

TV stars load their arms with.

          “Well Lady Bug,

          A fine plan

          You and your Mama,

          Heading to L.A.


Ruby Lucille whispers

in her bottle tree language,

Ruby Lucille

never laughing

never  letting on.

  1. What a masterpiece! Such a superbly-written piece in all ways – succinct wording, excellent line-breaks, profound.

  2. A gorgeous poem. As the mother of two daughters, I have to say I teared up reading this poem about a girl, her mama, her gram, and that big old elm covered with bright glass bottles and gaudy wind chimes, looking over them all. Those who say there isn’t enough heart in poetry these days need to read Amy Susan Wilson.

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