Flowers 4

By Brian Christopher Jaime
for Terry McMillan

I was a bitch
glacier cold solid ice

claws for fingernails
man killing eyes

not myself, not someone else
thirsty for the wild hunt

self-loathing eating away
the way aphids eat the orange tree

no more empathy
where’d that go?

probably jumped off the same cliff
as romance and joy

at the bottom of a cold canyon
swirling in roaring deep water

caught in the current
beneath the surface, far beneath

carried away for three years
no lifejacket, no life

behind reinforced steel
behind the bitch

I was a bitch for three years
until the bitch took a scraper to the icebox

climbed over the edge of the canyon
breaking clawed nails on orange clay

bloody at the bottom, bloody but alive
swam to the bottom of freezing waters

found my groove
got it back

shot up from the icy foam
exhaled

picked ripe fruit from the tree
cut it into four pieces

one for romance, one for joy
one for empathy, one for me

no more aphids on the orange tree
no more glacier, no more hunt

oh yes, the bitch is still here
nourishing my soul with the fruit of knowledge

reminding me don’t let go
don’t let me be all they see

First published in Men’s Heartbreak Anthology.

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