Paperwhites

by Dia Roth

My mother leaves behind paperwhites, gifts
for my dog in her handwriting,
books of poetry, no note. I mine them

for semi-precious stones,
admissions of remorse, scabs picked
off and left behind, but come up

dry. Douse any glimmer, wick drips
water from kerosene, ‘til it’s all
shriveled up. She-loves-me,

she-loves-me-not, each petal
read clandestine, like pages of her journal,
dated 1976. Blurred matte of

reflection, wish I won’t
see myself in her early poems.
Find nothing, except:

I’m trying to write, but
friends keep coming over
and offering joints.

A superficial connection, at best.
My first December alone, she
gave me paperwhites—bulbs

immersed to their hips in water
and marbles—with a jug of
water and gin. Said the mixture

would stunt growth long enough
for the stocks to support
the flowers once they bloomed.

I tended the bulbs like you said. My chin
above water, breathing in every promise. Submerged
too deep, they rotted soft before the New Year.

 

Dia Roth (she/they) is a queer poet based in Seattle, WA. Their work has been recently featured in Sky Island Journal and The Selkie. They enjoy being partially submerged in bodies of water, rivers and oceans in particular.

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