Bouquets of Roses

you told me once, your favorite flower:

lily, any variety, they are all so pretty

or so you said, leading me through darkness to your bed

I followed, oh so willing to be your reality

you lean in to kiss me

and suddenly, the presence of others is suffocating

figures of shadow-others crowding, mourners at a funeral procession

petite bodies, whispers of smoke

they’re watching, a mockery

the whites of their eyes

oozing down chins like slime

brimming with you, so full of you, my heart feels bruised

fuller lips and better kisses

wider hips and longer blisses

the crushing weight of your past lives

squeezes, squishes every liter of air from my insides

until I am a flat, compact sheath of skin

and you’re whispering, I want you to be mine

but all these shadow-others are watching, hovering

the aroma of roses is smothering

their fingers groping, slender tendrils coiling like rope

a noose, a noose–voices that won’t let go

shoving themselves down my throat

and I am choking with swallowed words

you told me once I was so small

compared to who, I’ve always (but never) wanted to know

once about the good friend you wanted to–but never did–take to bed,

opportunity missed

about the one who told you No

because she’d been cheating on you for a while

and all the urban princesses know you by name:

but maybe–maybe–that’s a good thing

Thirty-Five Others, you told me once

and I thought, I am Just Another

rose in the bouquets you collect

beautiful as danger

or so you said, mentioning the one

who slit her wrists and went mad

but your hands are cradling my head,

your lips peppering my neck

you lean in to kiss me, and I think

in bouquets of roses, I want to be your lily

but when I open my eyes,

those shadows linger nearby

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