Poems by Madeline Wiseman

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Charms Against Jealousy

prunus cerasus

by Madeline Wiseman

From Canary Summer 2016

Madeline lives in the Salt Watershed, a few easy bikeable miles or less to four tributaries of the Platte River—Salt Creek, Oak Creek, Antelope Creek, and Dead Man’s Run.

Because sour cherries pucker
the mouth, they are for the songbirds,
a living feeder that needs watering.

Because they were mislabeled
as honeycrisp apples and planted
in the parking lot, they are illegal in the city.

They are sour because they break the laws
and hunker down in blue collar suburbia
to give the slip to corporate farming—

which would make anyone sour, all this hiding,
biding, pretending not to live at all.
Bought for sweetness and they pinch
the lips, an almost kiss, open-eyed
and startled—semi-dwarfs, foreign
rootstock, temperamental producers.

Worst, they’re eaten just because
they’re all that’s there. They’re like survivors

at a class reunion, still slender and fit,
made youthful by kale and cherry smoothies
years later, making everyone sour, betwixt, mean.
I hug them, can’t detect which are modified,
which pitted, which sweet against the odds.

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