Erica Manto Paulson’s poems have appeared in Thimble Literary Magazine, the Northern Appalachia Review, Porkbelly Press, and elsewhere. She is the winner of numerous awards in poetry, including first place winner in the 2020 Dayton Metro Library poetry contest. Her work has also been featured on NPR’s “Conrad’s Corner” (WYSO). Erica is a lifelong Ohioan who finds inspiration for her poetry in the fertile fields of her home state, drawing on a deep connection to the surrounding world. Her first chapbook is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in September.
When we stopped watering the marigolds the world was also slowly dying,
we hardly noticed the way things decreased— only the distance grew
while the flowers, thin and emaciated, still shamelessly bloomed despite
their thirst. Dried orange blossoms teetering on the necks of bony stems,
they looked like Atlas carrying the world on their shoulders. You said liberation
is like that heavy ball of seed, opening at the very moment each flower dies,
every strand a possibility. I said we are never free of instinct— the ephemeral
bloom, the beauty unfurling whether or not we choose to open. We talk in metaphor
of the things not fit for words— the flower, the seed, the ghost of everything
we have ever tried to be and how it gives up, how nothing haunts us anymore.