Chloë Rose

HAUNTED

In the dark I said to her
these two things should not be wed
in one hand I held surrender
in the other I held mauve
the dream cloud had me caught
while behind her a cloaked pillar
a shadow
fringed in ruffles like midnight’s abalone
towered as a grim love

I traced the lines of her face
leaving a dotted trail of mauve marks
like stitches
sewing onto this unmemory
a face I'd like to forget

*

They woke up the deadname and said that I had died / said that I had killed myself / how many of them are there that deadname me / a family made of mismatched broken cups / they say to me in their own minds that you'll always be my Jacob / the mauve breath of selfishness disguised as love / an abuse scar / a fever fall in the pregnant mauve dark / the way the deadname wafts up as a miasma of loss / how spent the effort was to get you to call me by my actual name / my self-erected oracle / mauve: the color of the bruise that rests right where the name hangs on me / continues to hang each time it is ever used

*

I am a house full of ghosts
in a world without sage, without
stars, without light or salt.

I am a study of the way gray looks when they're royalty.

How many ghosts must I always carry with me?
How much more must I expand to accommodate?

I heard once
that trauma is a sliver in the brain
and flashbacks are your brain’s way
of getting the sliver out

Memory is a mauve ghost
hanging like a cloth, years
the breeze that unsettles the panels
just before the recollection
Mauve: the cold flame of air
of twilit skies, grey and red
like the neurons of the brain

When you're dead to so many people
who've taken away your name,
isn't it your holy prerogative to burn
the ghost of them out, the lamp
shuttered like a house?

Future arsonists:
Will it always burn?

MEDITATION ON GARDENIAS

the petals         decayed white         nicotine patina         yellowed lace         tea paper
petals         white         pungent         denatured in self-acid           delicate, lonely parfumerie
petal and stem           calling through olfactory neurons the edges of a distant memory
exchanged, electrified data             petals recalling a memory a vacuole of air from long ago 
housed in the brain         admixture of molecules imprinted         petal-matrix         stem and leaf
bone, mitochondria         placental ridges         scents         odors         petals pressed into fat
enfleurage         fat absorbs scents         fat holds onto hormones         memory confit
petal-memory:   to smell a flower, to place it on a coffee table, to watch it rot over a few days time
petals         so delicate they brown the same day the flower was picked
so pungent that the aroma still rises from the trash bin                petal-memory:
the bushes taller than me         white petals as big as my hand         the ants drowning in the sink

*

Our  grandparents  had  a ten-foot  long  row  of  Gardenias  in  the
back   of  their  house  and  their  yard   was  home  to  a  variety  of
tropical  fauna:  Mountain   Apple.   Guava.   Avocado.    Tangerine.
Plumeria.   We’d  pluck  fruit   right  from  the  trees   and  bite  into
succulent,  raw  flesh.  The Gardenias we’d gather  and  we’d wash
in an ancient sink caked with laundry detergent and lint  from  the
dryer  that had gotten wet and dried  over  in  successive  blue and
pale-blue  generations.   Some   petals  would   fall  into   the   dirty
basin.   We’d  check  the  white  flowers  for   black  insects   before
dousing  them again  with  cold,  cold  water,  shaking  the ants off
like  poppy  seeds.  We’d  eat  the  fruit  and  smell  our  bounty  of
flowers   before   deciding   who  we’d   give  our   flowers  to:   the
largest to our mother,  the second largest to our grandmother,  and
the  remainder  to  our bedroom  for us  to  smell.  There  would be
piles of dead flowers  around us  as  we  danced,   and  we’d smell
them,  the piles  of petals,  as we huffed  in the hot  air.  The  petals
would rise  with  our self-made  wind and as  we  finished,  they’d
fall all around us like feathers.

*

If I could keep only one memory, it would be this:
                                                  My grandmother and I – alone at the table. 
                          She uses her fingers to pick up pieces of kugel and roast.
                                    She – our bright genetrix – bites her teeth in worry.
                                                               A bowl of Gardenias sit between us
              Between us – like the cancer cells, like the gap of so many years
                                         the gardenias will sour with the passing of days
   Sour – like the body sours with disease, the body like a wilting flower
                          Here, before the corruption, this moment this singularity
But I cannot keep only one memory; 
I must keep them all. 

Chloë Rose

Chloë Rose is fat, queer, femme, non-binary person of color living with disabilities and her cats Franz and Luna in Tacoma, WA. They have been published by the Atticus Review, The Wanderer, and were featured in Aspasiology (March 2017). They enjoy writing poetry, essay, and fiction, as well as tweeting about conlangs, antifa, witchcraft, and such as. Brown brown brown brown brown brown brown. @chloeandsuchas www.chloerose.space #spacewitch

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