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graciousness and deceit, Ren Gay

Snapdragons have enough forethought to turn to skulls as they die

and I am sorry I am so stuck upon morbidity but I grew up in a place

where every plant is either dead or dormant for over half the year.

Where birds must leave or face cruel starvation.

I grew up surrounded by the kind of death was easy to ignore

so I have not faced it fully, head-on yet.

When I was a child I found half of a dog's jawbone

buried next to my school and named it sacred,

spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror holding it up to my own cheek

and still managed to skip over how it would one day be my equal.

I pick bouquet after bouquet of what have been called weeds.

The thorns of thistle and ragweed stab at my hands and rip free strips of skin

still patterned with palmistry lines.

I do not flinch.

I do not cry.

I make them into ribbons and tie the bundles of weeds together,

hand them out on street corners and make sure to look away

when the recipients throw them into the gutters to finish rotting.


Ren Gay is a Pushcart nominated poet and artist from Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in journals such as Anti-Heroin Chic, The Laurel Review, Qu Literary, Ghost City Review, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Persephone's Daughters, and others as well as the anthology What Keeps Us Here.

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