Christening

—in the voice of Marie Lafarge[1]

Naming a child is a terrible fire. The wet

whisper of the wind might keep the kindling

from catching. Or, worse, it could work.

Sounds the spark that start a personality

down the path of permanence.

                                         My name

remains inescapable. Marie. Marina. Migraine

that split my post-partum mother open.

Marie. Marie. Not for the greenshift glow

of algae, which is delicate

                                  as a shipwreck,

which is how women should be. For

neither shore nor sand, nor the shadows

soft and deep enough to churn from the closed

mouth of clams, a pearl—that yellow luminesce

we wear royal on our throats. 

                            And certainly not for song—

long-drawn out muse for sailors and their sloppy

music. Marie for the chemistry of the water itself—

tolerant, totalizing. A universal solvent.

There will be no suffering in this life

                                                     I shall not

                                                      dissolve.


[1] Marie Lafarge was a French woman accused of poisoning her husband Charles by lacing his fruitcake with arsenic after he conned her into marriage under the false pretense of being a millionaire. She was the first person to be convicted of murder using forensic toxicological evidence in 1840.


Emily Paige Wilson is the author of the forthcoming full-length collection Jalubí (Unsolicited Press, 2022) and two chapbooks: Hypochondria, Least Powerful of the Greek Gods (Glass Poetry Press, 2020) and I’ll Build Us a Home (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. Connect with her at www.emilypaigewilson.com and @Emmy_Golightly.