My mother’s friend was a gardener.
She grew lavender that we would tuck in pillows
before sleep came to steal us away each night.
But my favorite were the roses.
Beware of thorns in unexpected places.
How they seem so soft and innocent,
but cause a puncture, the flinch,
and pull back from what was loved.
Each year, my grandfather would give
my grandmother yellow roses.
Symbols of friendship and promises
for the future- for their family.
He would take off the thorns, carefully
removing the danger, fearful that any
mishaps would result in her blood
staining the perfect softness of the flower.
She never spoke too loudly,
always fearful that the slightest
mishap would result in her staining
the perfect softness of their home.
I come from the south. This has always
been true. Always been my truth.
Even when I run far, my soul is etched with
roses, thorns, and blood. This is what I know.
No train or bus can squeeze the honey
from my soul; no traffic or busy stranger’s
sideways glance. My soul is mixed with
blood, and the thorns grew into my bones.