Poetry

88. you’d better grow a spine, darling

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“Water the cactus, darling. It’ll grow into a hurt machine like me, and we won’t have to argue over who made the other bleed. We’ll have a haven for our blame.”

(You said.)

“Water the cactus I gave you for your birthday. Let it grow high and tall and yes, why not let it wound. Let’s see how much pain our love is worth. If you still want to hold me close enough, when I have spines, I’ll know that this will last.”

So I bled, resembling a child with smallpox.

(I said.)

“This is what your gift has done to me. Your cactus.”

You smiled.
Said it was good to see I was taking pain so well.
Said you tried
to be more friendly and less spiny.

Tried to be romantic, even, when we kissed. The blisters are a side effect. You should’ve warned me that beards hurt as much as cacti. Been gentler.

“Oh no,” I said.
“It’s fine.
This is a garden we’ve made together, after all.”

I’ll give you a daisy for our anniversary.
You’ll look at me confused, say:
“This isn’t something I’d expect.”
“I know.
But let the flower grow, anyway.
It will brighten the room come spring.”
“Okay.”

I watered that cactus every day.
You scarcely touched the daisy.
Yet they rotted very much the same.
Too little or too much of a good thing
often ends that way.

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