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Bottle Tree, 1922

by Lori Lamothe 7 months ago in love poems
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love for the wrong man

Bottle Tree, 1922
Photo by Shaafi Ali on Unsplash

At night it sings,

every branch

heavy with badness.

I lie in bed

and listen to the

caught spirits

storming inside

green glass,

touch my hand to

my throat —

feel the want

beating humming-

bird wings,

quick like love

for the wrong man.

The heart

thrashes in its cage

mad for freedom.



The whiskey dark

hot against my skin.

I close my eyes

and pray for dawn

to burn off desire,

stain the sky pink.


In addition to love and all its intoxications, the poem touches on two other types of spirits: bootleg liquor and evil ghosts, which bottle trees supposedly helped ward off. They were especially prevalent in the south and originated from slaves.

A little history:

"When African peoples arrived in the U.S., they created bottle trees from dead trees or large limbs next to their quarters and adorned them with glass bottles scavenged from garbage piles. Blue bottles were coveted, because they repelled evil and trapped night spirits to be destroyed by the rising sun. Many Milk of Magnesia bottles ended up on trees!

Bottle trees, often referred to as “poor man’s stained glass,” can also be made from wooden posts with large nails, welded metal rods, or bottles simply stuck on the tines of an upended pitch fork, Rushing says. You can use any color bottle, but blue ones are considered the best, because of their centuries-old association with ghosts and spirits."

I suppose I'm a bit skeptical of love at first sight - so this young woman's desire, her bootlegger beau and the bottle tree she hopes will save her - all come together here.

love poems

About the author

Lori Lamothe

Poet, Writer, Mom. Owner of two rescue huskies. Former baker who writes on books, true crime, culture and fiction.

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