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Wild Flowers Native to New York

The first time I fall in love, it is with a magnolia.

I love her quietly, behind a diary;

I watch her from afar, from below, with a sense of awe.

She stands tall, branches thick with flowers,

but then she wilts so quickly;

just one month and her pink is tinged with brown.

By the time I am close enough to see the veins of her leaves

she is rotting on the branch,

her smell of dying sickly sweet,

choking me.

Her remnants fall and float atop the water long after she herself is gone.

Nonetheless, I follow the decaying pieces,

I follow the river,

I follow someone who is not there to lead.

The second time I fall in love, it is with a dahlia

Her love grows with mine, but slowly, so slowly.

Worse, she is perennial;

for the second time in my life, I wait by the river,

I wait for a flower to bloom.

One day I pot her, bring her home, and she makes my cats sick.

It occurs to me for the very first time that all flowers are poisonous to someone.

Both of them still have some roots left in me.

When I’m not careful I think there will always be roots here,

roots deep within me that mourn.

I worry to myself that I will never stop aching,

for warm skin in winter,

for cold hands in june.

At my worst I let strong fingers clutch at my windpipe

(better than the memory of lips in the hollow of my throat).

At my best I watch my hands press against my chest

to fill the place I’d made for a garden.

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