Silt and Soot

hot oil spilled across the moon
filling pockmarked holes, dripping
like slime-slick earthworms
in a rain made of molasses
wet ashes
with too many dead things in it

and my flowers, poor darlings
drank it up

what else were they supposed to drink?

we’d come to think
this was the end of all things
and stayed inside for
most of the summer
playing checkers
making macramé
and washing dishes

over and over and over
to try and make things clean

one day
it all stopped
and hell-if-I-know-how
but I went out to my gardens
finding coal roses crying
next to panther lilies
and little black violets
cowering beneath
a sooty wheelbarrow
brimming with blackened weeds

the dear things thought it wasn’t over

until I bent down
and rubbed the pad of my thumb across

those sad, sad petals
drying those black, black tears

removing silt and soot
with patient and delicate caresses
revealing pretty blushes

still blooming on velvet cheeks

Gretchen Tessmer lives in the deep woods of the U.S./Canadian borderlands. She’s published short stories and poems in such venues as Nature, Bourbon Penn, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and F&SF (as well as a previous appearance in Apparition Lit), with her poetry collecting several Pushcart, Rhysling and Dwarf Stars nominations along the way.


Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

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