ISSUE EIGHTEEN: Say Yes, Mr. Tell | next poem →

At the Gin Tasting

Maria Sledmere

Picture 200 junipers growing in a straight line
like a vineyard except virtual
between here and there and three sweet years.
It’s part of the Earth to Glass relationship;
have you tasted the new environment:
miniature and intricate, most definitely local.
It’s a little bit kitsch isn’t it, floral
maybe in the bouquet
but tangy after, like good sex.
You roll over a clean field before.
I said I just wanted to look after herbs;
you get to that part in life
where the soil underneath you starts to erode
and the true roots show their feelings.
I suspect more of a hip-flask nourishing
where everything precious roams metallic;
think of amphora falling in movies.
These liquids shifting hue to hue
a value of lilac and dandelion
distilled to simples: a purpose specific
like cutting the cord on a pelican’s throat.
Alcohol is best preservative.
Gradient change creates milk
upon verdant garden tongues, a choice enclosure
slightly furred.
When I describe it, silvery round thing
poised upon time or tip
I meant moon, but the girl in green
thought clock. The spin & drift
of vegetal temporality, its glinted tassels
less of calyx. Let me tell you about
musk mallow, lavender, my fresh herbarium.
My real love all these years
is the slim & nuanced structures themselves:
figure of campion and peat-knotted pearlwort,
such annuals of willow and nightshade enclosures.
When I address broad groups such as yourselves;
I mean truly biodynamic, aligned
to lunar cycles! Avoid a delirious
zoocentrism when plucking the hour
with chamomile and cornflower, O nothing
is better than a bachelor’s button—
that sweet and androgynous prize of blue,
whose pigment I have crushed
upon many a love’s tongue
and stung the next day on diuretics & spreadsheets.
I urge you to try it, truly & frankly
like red cabbage stains on a true-blue plate.
Afternoon passes like sun through cider
as she pours mint tea to a rich fodder gold
I align my brethren to the coolness of noon
a tincture or two for the blemish fermented
against how she gravels her
primitive algorithms. These days
we are programmed to be frightened of nature
as if nectar itself were a strangeness inside us
and daily we unbloom
the flesh of the fruit, skin of the flower
who sheds far better the most old-fashioned rose—
a fragile rose, a platitude.
Mix these infusions at will, try a chintzy
jazz of medicinal attitude: pale old berry
with packet of seed, inseminate
fertility excesses your need for a straw.
I despise plastic, along with those fat
unnecessary wedges of lime. Take a chance
on my oolong enthusiasm;
this lifetime array of improvised flavour,
garnishes of fate by the grain
you blow through each elegant cylinder
of velvetleaf snagged in alfalfa,
a bed of ice lettuce beside soft winter savouries
and even in the darkness luxuriate
in a vodka
of saffron and opium poppy
as my daughter, the once-wild thing
has taught me: every ecology
has deep, mucilaginous promise;
a sense disembodied will lighten
in time, the quality of pastel
sparkled with ersatz tonic. Her
strange and salt-encrusted lashes! These
are such indicators as you might wish
to aspartamize, the blush
of February light, the uncertain thistles
or your once-weed story
might sting in the blood a spell
but ever I have said on these walks
to Angelica, my dear
there is a knight’s vision in every vine
& the lines on my face
are most glabrous proof
of a perfect product, a sensitive serve.

Maria Sledmere graduated with an MLitt in Modernities in 2017. She is a member of A+E Collective, Gilded Dirt’s founding editor, co-editor of SPAM zine and occasional music critic/collaborator. Her first pamphlet, Existential Stationary, is out now via SPAM Press. Recent work appears in Adjacent Pineapple, amberflora, E-ratio, Erotoplasty, L'Éphémère Review, Numéro Cinq and Zarf.

ISSUE EIGHTEEN: Say Yes, Mr. Tell | next poem →


James Lindsay

Amanda Chiado

Darren C. Demaree
   Emily as a Smile Would Have Ruined the Picture

Maria Sledmere
   At the Gin Tasting

Sayward Schoonmaker

Holly Day
   Again, Under the Sun

Adam Tedesco
   I Had No Time of Sense

Laurel Radzieski
   Review #12

Bill Neumire
   They Deep

Matthew Schmidt
   This Car Will Get You Into Ontology

William Repass