Eric Tran

Whose winter blooms surprise me: crocus
and iris and daffodil. Then come limp-tongue lilies,

bleeding heart, and oh! the love in the mist.
Who named these plants and can you question
why I used to hate flowers. How I was convinced

to resent such schmaltz and ease.
Yesterday, I watched a man run out the shitty Inges

(Shingles we say in this part of town)
right into stalled traffic, cradling neon mums.
Imagine, flowers where you buy your meat

and TP, a version of me says. Another refuses
to believe you can buy your happiness or your way

out of anxiety. He says you'll piss out
the vitamins, grow nose blind to the scent-thick candle,
and worry how long 'til the petals give it up

to gravity. I'm sorry how this man loves you.
In high school, my boyfriend rarely held my hand

in public, lied about our blowjobs
so he could donate blood. He worked at a grocery store
and even with his discount, spent a day of wages

to swaddle me roses in pink, polka-dotted foil.
Some days (before you), drunk, we still trade

flirty emojis. At 30 I had a crisis and believed
I could pick up running. I've yet to beat
a 10-minute mile, but I can tell you where to find

the shade and jasmine, the clever, stubborn neighbor
growing her roses. I never smelled so intently,

so gratefully, until I was desperate for breath.
At my friends' funerals this year, no one wanted flowers,
but I bought them for their moms anyways. I know,

it was more for me than them. At 30 and in crisis
I bought my mom a bouquet of lilies

and she laughed so hard I almost snatched them back.
She said No one ever gave me flowers! through tears that surprised
us both. I know lilies mean death, and maybe so did she

and definitely so do you. Is that OK? A version of me
says we're going to die, so why bother leaving the warm bed?

Another says we're going to die, so let's get to the kissing.
Let the anxiety find me on the porch with the mosquitos. The shit
decaf I bought on sale? I want it if your hands boil the water.

Eric Tran is a queer Vietnamese writer in Asheville NC, where he is a resident physician in psychiatry and an associate editor at Orison Books. His debut book of poetry, the Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer won the 2019 Autumn House Press Rising Writer's Prize. His work appears in Iowa Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.

Follow @rebelinslacks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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