She Couldn’t Stand Cut Flowers, So I Bought Them in the Hopes that She Would Haunt Me

Ricky Ray


I hear that life is where love waters hurt, those thirsty flowers.

And death is where love presses petals —

the shapes of heartbreak — into rock.

That something the flowers once lent to the eye might last,

except that nothing lasts: might linger.

Might manifest: the look you gave me

when you saw in us the house we hadn't yet built,

your head in my lap as I sat with my back against the couch,

my ass numb on the cold, hard floor. We planned every inch:

the foyer, bedrooms, kitchen, greenhouse, gardens,

orchard, dog runs, disability contingencies,

but we didn't plan on your heart failure before the down payment.



Every shop in town that sells flowers, I bought them out.

Wanted to fill our bedroom, floor to ceiling.

It takes more flowers than you'd think.

The florists cry when they see me coming.

I cry when they tell me they have other customers to consider.

How can they exist on such a thin gruel of passion?

I learned the hard way: flowers don't stay floral.

After a month: putrefaction and rot.

I swear: it smells like they shit themselves.

The stench could knock a man down.

And that’s why I sleep in there, desperately searching

for anything — anything — left in me to knock.


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