Angela Williamson Emmert
Selected by Guest Editor Gabrielle Brant Freeman
Followed by Bio and Q&A
A Drunk Woman Waters Her Asparagus at Dusk
You think that you have earned it, this patch.
At seven months pregnant you dug the trench
and buried the long-fingered roots of the plants.
Now look at it: eight feet tall and wild-haired.
You think of a chorus of women. You think of
their dirth-songs like clouds surrounding them.
It takes years to get asparagus like this, six
to be exact, but ten is better. For ten springs you
refrained from over-taking the child-sized shoots
except for the few you ate raw, wild-tasting
like nuts and forests and green so sharp you
must immediately surrender to it, or die, or spit.
You drink because of asparagus. You hold up
your jeweled jelly jar glass and salute the light
of evening. The umbilical hose pulled behind
you stirs mosquitoes from waist-deep grass.
They feed on your ankles, and your children
cast laughter like nets into the darkness
that wicks through the tissue of day. You are
plowed and demand restitution from the dirt,
pour cheap-wine libations to what is turned
under, as if this power were yours and the earth
were yours. As if you might determine the substance
of death. Or drunk, climb into the fronds, and rest.
Angela Williamson Emmert lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and four sons.
Hugh MacDiarmid’s work “A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle” leaves me wondering, “How would one have that much time to just sit and stare at a thistle?” Even drunk, I feel like I need to find something useful to do.
What is your favorite dietary pleasure?
When I was a little girl, my mother made butter from fresh, raw milk. She used her electric blender as a churn. Then she strained the butter through a cheesecloth, added salt, and formed it into a lumpy block. That was when my father was farming with his brother. Later, he bought his own farm, and sometimes the switch on the automated agitator in the milk tank failed, and the agitator would run the whole night, stirring the milk until the cream formed butterballs, two or three of them, fifty-cent-piece size, floating on waves of milk. This was not good financially—richer milk was worth more and the butter used up all the cream—but butter can’t be unmade, so we ate it like thieves, melted into toast. Recently, I discovered the joy of buttered radishes, fresh from my garden, tender crunch and sharp taste, swaddled in a soft-butter sea. Good on cucumbers, too.
You’ve just discovered a new planet. What are you going to name it?
I like the idea of planets named for gods, but I think we need to branch out from the Roman and Greek. So maybe something non-European. If I were asked to actually find a name, I think I’d search out some half-reliable internet site and find something that looked not too hard to pronounce but so obscure that it was likely made up. Then I’d let people wonder, or spin a new lie every time someone asked me about it. We need some new stories. It’s time.
Which is your favorite season: Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
Fall–for the light.