The poems in "Bottle Tree" can be considered meditations on the history and culture of the author's native South, as well as her individual family history, with often ambivalent responses to both. The characters in these poems find solace in nature but return again and again to the complexity of human relationships as necessary connection.
Horne, who has edited a collection of poems about farming and gardening in the South, Working the Dirt (2003) and co-edited a collection of essays about southern women and spirituality, All Out of Faith (2006), grew up in Arkansas and has lived in Alabama for the past twenty years. The poem “WPA” from “Bottle Tree” reflects how she grapples with southern history:
Some of us here
don’t know whether
to save it
or let it go.
and it’s the only one
Like the bottle tree of the title, bottle trees in the rural south were both objects of beauty and a way to deal with evil spirits. The shining blue bottle catches both the light and ancestral memory in the form of spirits trying to make their way into the house, or self.