Two Poems

By: Emma Cairns Watson



Honeymoon on the I-90, Some Ways Past Madison

My new wife likes to ask questions I don’t have answers to. “Where was Taco Bell started?”
Or (passing some church), “How are the Franciscans doing?”

I’m just imagining being a nun in Wisconsin. It’s February. There are nuns in Italian hill-towns,
that’s one thing and Wisconsin’s another. Upcoming exit Saint Rose Convent: a carshaking
flurry of enthusiasm. Saint Rose Convent brought lemon tarts, elephant ears, almond croissants
to the Wilmette farmer’s market every Saturday, April through October, many years ago
to sell to my wife who now wants to stop to visit them on our low-budget honeymoon.
We are driving north, snow coming down light from a dark sky, night
tailgating us down the interstate.

Lovely one, what do you think would happen if we went and said Thank you
for the elephant ears?

She doesn’t know.

Well, would you recognize any of them? The nuns. Would they know you?

Maybe. But by then we’re past the turnoff and she’s moved on, cross-legged
in the passenger seat, reading Taco Bell’s entry on Wikipedia aloud to me, in full.



A Short List of My Demands

  1. Good black tea with both milk and honey, the chase
    of autumn in a foreign city, and you.
  2. The scent of cathedrals in the winter, submersion
    in hot water, rosewater
    and pistachio, praise, moss
    agate and cigarette smoke, sun on sandstone, the burning
    of precious things: this last to watch, to pass hands through, to commit
    to memory what rose to votive smoke.
  3. Hardboiled eggs and ginger, lamb and mint, the horse chestnut, homeostasis
    of the body after long illness: all this I anticipate, and kissing you inside
    your mouth in September’s unfurnished bedroom
    in my white dress left over from summertime.


ECWatsonEmma Cairns Watson lives and writes and spoils two dogs in Los Angeles. After studying neuroscience and English literature at Smith College, she now uses absolutely none of that training in her current job as a university administrator. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Half Mystic, Okay Donkey, RHINO, Pithead Chapel, and Ninth Letter, and she’s on Twitter now and then @ecairnswatson.