My mother keeps flowers until they wilt.
Late at night she picks out the drooping stems—
she tells me her mother did the same.
My father brings home a bunch for Rosh Hashanah.
By the third week, only one remains. Two months pass
and we check it’s not a plastic one thrown in by mistake,
by pressing on the petals with our fingernails,
leaving crescent marks. Three months pass
and my mother continues to change the water.
Four months pass and it mutates, edges expanding.
One night, the vase shatters. We sweep up the glass, wrap
shards in newspaper, eye the flower warily. Soon it takes
up the kitchen bench. The petals are big enough to cover
our round wooden table. We pull off the petals and use them
as tablecloths. Heirlooms to hoard in the linen cupboard.
Poem First Published in Short and Twisted Anthology 2016, Celapene Press