We are all touch-me-nots now, exploding at the slightest provocation
Impatiens, named without irony or
wit. Ripe pods burst when touched, buckshot seed spray,
shotgun wedding. Tastes like walnuts, can float
for weeks. I’m a strong swimmer, I have a
good job, it’s embarrassing to still hope
to be loved. Hollow stems. Weak, succulent,
juicing when broken. Sour like bile. Treats hives,
rashes, measles, fever, ringworm and warts.
How did you break your collarbone so young?
Mix with alum, orchids to dye hair, nails.
Our lady’s eardrops, wild lady’s slipper,
slipperweed, snapweed, Busy Lizzie, touch-
me-not, kiss-me-on-the-mountain, quick-in-
the-hand, policeman’s helmet. Runaway.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds’ favourite.
Prefers marshes, swamps, damp woods. Shallow roots
cause erosion, choke out competition.
See? I told you some asphyxiation
would be fun. No floral scent. Maintenance:
low. Symbolizes maternal love. Crush
the petals to ease anxiety. R—
sleeps in soft sputters, pulsing mouthfuls of
puffballs, like he can’t stop kissing what is
already drifting out of reach. I sit
vigil, rigid, watching his lips twitch, purse.
All I want to do is just stop thinking.
At dawn, he curls a leg over mine. Sighs.
Orange ones crowd around the banks of the creek.
Topaz ordeals like waltzes, always packed
yet too scared to leave. Same old suffix hoax.
Invasive weed or meritocracy?
Fiction, torn narrations. Spraying selves for
yes-men. You’re kind of freaking me out now.
Cuckold the phallus to grant forgiveness.
each more ulcer and put-down than the last.
Compliance chorus, keep swiping for change!
Good job. It’s embarrassing to still hope
for pollinators. Self-compatible,
self-cleaning, no need to decapitate.
Motherly love or revenge fantasy?
When mature, splits into violent valves.
Winged euonymus, on fire but never burning
Haven’t torn out my lower lashes in
decades but today is all pinprick rage,
eggshell kid, tiny scar assembly line.
Outside, I press my ear to dead leaves. Roots
writhe in dirt, ancient cello strings straining
into song: if he dreams of me in rain,
in his coastal hometown, does it mean that
I’m a person? Or still the soft sludge trees
burrow into? The burning bush pulses
at its most crimson. I shield my eyes from
its glare. No one needs to be that honest.
Maple, poplar, oak all rumble then thrash.
Copse in chorus, chanting their secret names.
Shaking loose remaining leaves. Defiant.
Look. I’m no prophet, no role model, no
birds’ nest or symphony, just the swampland
no one can build on. Office kitchen, the
Finance gals fruit flied around me, stirring
coffees, buzzing, You look so good, you lost
so much weight! My guts all quartz scrap, acid
clench, and threatening voice notes. It’s been years
since I’ve seen a ghost or those severed hands
on the bannister. Now I’m the ghosts, those
kids left alone in cornfields by angry
fathers, their favourite t-shirts first torn
off. Mine was yellow. New, with a bronze horse
ironed on. No one ever liked horse-girls.
It wasn’t a depressing dream. At the
end we even saw a rainbow. I hope
Edgar is better. Someone’s behind that
tree, scratching their initials into bark
with my torn nails, gluing my eyelashes
onto branches like leaves. My real parents
were trees, they held the canopies up high
for me, silent and still and calm, smoothing
over the edges of the jagged sky.
Only they know what I call myself in
sleep. Celastraceae, flying spindle:
can invade the forest understory.
My eyelids twitch and ruffle, forcing out
fresh shoots, antennae, to block out the dirt.