Nerium Oleander

The first clear night of early summer I drove out to the park.
Indulging a friend’s desire to remember the life
Of someone I didn’t know.
He planted pink oleander a week after his mother died
And liked to see it on her birthday.
A blooming, poisonous dogbane, he called it,
Just like her.

We found the oleander wrapped in fading light,
Its leaves overgrown like twisty arms. I reached
For its blooming palm, to clasp hands with
Nature and his mother all at once.
Touching is toxic, he said, just look.

He got drunk and revealed the scars she left him,
The ones on his ribs, his knee. His face spoke
In the same way the forest speaks, and traces of her
Wicked love fell from his eyes. He recalled that
When she parted those perfect pink lips
A sick ocean poured out, drenching the world.

How sad it was, to be so like her plant,
Forging a life from violent passivity that
Even in death, refused to be touched.

Whitney Harrison is a junior at Eckerd College in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. She is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. This is her first publication.

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