evolution of cold flowers

Cold-weather flower,
the crush of snow does not
stop the way petals push-

I like to believe me and him
were cold-weather sorts,
simply. The way moms say,

‘get up,’ say, ‘where-
are-my-keys,’ like mine
claps her finger cymbals

when she dances/
a certain pattern to the running
in her heart, like an anxious bird

beneath the snow
the sun seeks,

and the little bird untold.


When I’m a grown woman,
she says to me, “you
intimidated me, all those
things you would say;
I didn’t know what you meant”
and I hear, “I didn’t know

what you intended to do to me”
-because of a habit of hiding
from inconvenient truths/

I used to sit beneath the biggest
tree I could find reading about
better worlds than this

to forget the way it felt
her laughter of small,
feminine sounds

in an empty room.

I say things like
‘sorry’ like ‘I love you’ like
an allergy blooms

sometimes slow and then
suddenly unbearable/ the
inauthenticity is pale

and colorless. I sit after
school on the old sign
and the hot bricks feel good

to me, sketching all the things
I can see that are real like
dragonflies and the rubber

wheel of a car as I wait
a little bit longer to go home.

I say, I love you, but
I want to say I am something
beautiful you are missing.


A cup with no handle-
useful? Still holds so much
like a bright, blank page-
sometimes I use a
pen like a lever
to lift the cup up
to the faucet.


Six-years-old/ plays
shark: my best-est friend
Amber chases in the pool,
a lock of golden hair dripping
wet and pointed like a sharp
weapon, says, “Shark tooth!”
yelling and laughing and I
swim as fast as I can
swallowing water

in fits of giggles-
people say the word silly:
I want to define it, survival
and to call it instead, heroic.


I work at a Winn Dixie through college
down the street from the projects-
southern women tell me I speak
‘like a baby.’ I swallow razor blades

before each shift though it bleeds
because my voice is very small
and I seem very small, too.

They stop one day
maybe because they notice I am
relentless, but I learn

I am an angry misfit of sorts
hiding behind a small frame
and long hair I sometimes

wear in pigtails so they will
never know how serious I
am, the disastrous maelstrom

in my heart that would be
set free- Big cat and claws
and all their pain, too

I can see is just
too much.


The angry say,
they cannot open their
eyes, see you without
being afraid of their
own hollow space.

One time I stepped in the snow
up on Mount Saint Helens mid-winter
and was standing on a bench,
snow-blinded. The laughter
that bubbled same as

when she lost her temper.

That time dad took me to San
Francisco to visit my uncle
who in the front seat of our
car going down Lombard
asks, “does she speak?” with
his kind eyes looking
in the rearview, and I

look at the trees
with their boughs like grandma’s
lap as she braids my hair in
some memory.


Zipper-mouth girls and boys
tragic or beautiful depending
on whether they would dare
ask to be tragic

or the loveliest/ cold-weather
flowers with roots deep
in the snow.


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