Dear columbine, dear engine

Melissa Stein on

Published in Poem Of The Day

Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It's all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what's spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,
a bloat of skin and fur.
Afloat in bathtub, clean,
blue-lipped, forgiven. Face-down
in the snow. Why do you
imagine these terrible things?
asks my mother, or her
ghost. Because the paper's
crisp and white. Because
no slate's unwritten.
Because the ant that scaled
this flower head
has nowhere else to go.

About this poem
"When my first book, 'Rough Honey,' came out, my mother called me with a single, fraught question: 'All those things in your book-did they really happen to you?' At the time, I simply said no. This poem explores the question."
-Melissa Stein

About Melissa Stein
Melissa Stein is the author of "Rough Honey" (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). She is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.

(c) 2014 Melissa Stein. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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