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One of the first planned communities in America.
Before the hillside, before the ticky-tacky, Wilder.
Each mill house mirrored the next on a grid plotted
for workers who came to run the Wilder Paper Mill.

They processed logs that floated down the Connecticut
7 days a week, 365 days a year. Transformed wet pulp
into newsprint and shipped it by train whose tracks
followed the river’s path.

They walked the Wilder streets, sent their children
to the Wilder School, read books in the Wilder Library,
and when they felt kicky on a Saturday night,
they went to the Wilder Club.

They built the Wilder Dam and the river rose nine feet
along the shore. The Paper Mill was leveled into a park
where the grass is cut for soccer practice, where children
run with domesticated dogs off their leashes.

Today, the houses are old and crumbling. Unapologetic.
It’s a circuitous future coughing up chipped paint,
dog poop, and weeds in overrun beds. My beds are
raised and still learning how to grow.

I traded a small town in South Dakota for this wilderness.
For a life of adventure to ease my restless spirit. Wilder.
Because it sounds like a name you’d point to on a map.
Wilder. Pistol shots or a wolf’s cry in the night. Wilder.

Nobody tells you how hard it’s going to be.

Listen, here comes the train.


I dreamt I was a young girl
who kept a butterfly inside a jar.
I poked holes in the lid, added
a branch, some grass, and clovers.
Suddenly, a two year old wakes up
crying. He’s unraveling, so I hold
him tight. His body is small but
heavy. I stroke his soft hair, his
back where the breeze might have
tickled his wings. Now, I do not
know whether I was a young girl
dreaming she was a mother or
a mother dreaming she was
a young girl, loosening a lid.


you point your whole body toward it.
Nestled in the brightly colored, owl shaped
utensil holder on the granite kitchen counter,
you reach and lean and stretch toward it as I
anchor your small, soft 22 pounds in my arms.
Your curious little fingers and thumb pinch
the bamboo with the focus of an Olympic athlete.
You pull it triumphantly from the hodgepodge
of metal whisk, black plastic ladle, red spatula,
and silver salad tongs. Your satisfaction is so pure,
I have only witnessed it in children, or indirectly
as when noticing strangers smile to themselves.
I feel the brightness of possibility in this, as if
I could study the sun forever and never go blind.


For all inquiries, please contact Laura Jean at