leave the white roses be

By Grace Zimmerman

paint the white roses red,

heat the concrete steps with strong thighs,

strip the trees of their bark and look inside

make the boys sit and the girls stand

take the wasted green from the fallen leaves and

spread it evenly on the dead grass

lead the elephant up my toes over my hips to my chest

sit him on the butterflies lifting up and down.

suck my air away.


tell the girl you love you’re gone

leave his softest sweater folded on the lawn,

light the pine scented candles in july

cover the closet with christmas lights to

forget his clothes were ever there.

stop calling him.


toss the sunflowers rotting in their vase,

wreck the old road trip car

sell the parts to buy a bike

lose the bike to sticky fingers and an old cable lock.

walk to work.


scream that life has tainted it all and

let the rest spoil out of spite

cover your ears till your brother shuts up shuts up shuts the fuck up,

fight with the mother about fighting for fighting’s sake

scrape the last of your savings together to buy a dog,

give the dog away after a week

buy a fish.


touch your lips to the bodies of strangers

break every rule your father ever set

dye your hair to match your mother’s potting soil

knock down a wall in your bedroom with fists

get kicked out.


join a gym and take up swimming.

run until 10k feels like a stroll through central park.

move back in with your college roommate

backpack through bali to feel sunshine

buy new clothes for a job you already hate

let your hair fade back to red

meet a nice boy and teach him fear.


leave the white roses be.