I carried one single rose to your home.
When I arrived, you were still at the pub
so your friends and I smoked at the table.
I put the rose in my hair. Roses are best
for a birthday, it was your birthday that night
and the house itself seemed to know it.
A faint shifting of floorboards, a dimming
of the overhead light. A door in the hallway
bloomed with a fresh coat of paint
but it remained closed. You were late.
We kept drinking. The rose fell out
of my hair. A girl tore at it with her teeth
and then I bit the rose, then there were crushed
petals everywhere. She stuffed them
down my top, then the gin bottle was empty.
You came home with more people.
I gave you the stripped stalk in the hallway
outside the closed door. (The man
I should have given the rose to was passed out
behind it. I should have said that before.)
But it was your birthday, and the rose
was destroyed anyway. You said thank you.
We went into the kitchen. The door
down the hallway stayed closed. All night
I felt the dampness of petals against me
like soft, bloodied mouths brushing my breasts,
their last act of love in this world.
Image by Phoebe Baker.