Dear columbine, dear engine

Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It’s all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what’s spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,
a bloat of skin and fur.
Afloat in bathtub, clean,
blue-lipped, forgiven. Face-down
in the snow. Why do you
imagine these terrible things?

asks my mother, or her
ghost. Because the paper’s
crisp and white. Because
no slate’s unwritten.
Because the ant that scaled
this flower head
has nowhere else to go.


Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“When my first book Rough Honey came out, my mother called me with a single, fraught question: ‘All those things in your book—did they really happen to you?’ At the time, I simply said, no. This poem explores the question.”
Melissa Stein