The article in Happy was:
“Feast your eyes on the world’s top 8 sexiest
plants.” More words to form the headline than
plants listed. Too bad for the two Blooms
that shortened the 10 count, or weren’t there enough
sex pots at all? I’m in a Zoom writing workshop again.
Nearly a year since I’ve checked these boxes; those
faces were my friends. Are my friends? Tense times.
We should have muted our mics for the thirty-minute
free write, but one never does. I can hear her starting
the engine, speaking her poem, seeing how she runs.
We are all women in here. There? I never learned how
to spell minute, have to look it up every time, always
keeping track of the dancing. That’s the difference
a few letters make. The poet is coughing. I wonder if
it is rude to see if she is dying, or rude to not see?
Funny the things we look at. Readers have every right
to be frustrated—I mean, where did this pronoun
come from? Why wait until the middle of the poem
to announce You? You, the you I’m talking to. Who’s
to say this is the middle? This poem might die next
or go on another four pages. This is how I write
these days. In Zoom, with women and an unforeseeable
number of pages. The Zoom poet is speaking again,
the word bone is all that really sticks. Her voice is revving.
Who says “how she runs?” Why is it always a her? First
thing my mother ever taught me was how to run in heels
with my keys between my fingers. I told you about that
when we were out for drunken pie in Chicago. AWP.
Who will remember that? Who will remember bookfairs
and celebrity? The other female interns, young, lurched
through the streets like skinny t-rexes. How do you
pluralize Rex? You would have made a better editor
than a publicist. Your advice about a career in poetry,
find a honey pot. I’d just turned down my city judge
who offered me a house back and full custody of my
son. I remind the judge of his mother who committed
suicide. The judge still checks on me to see if I’ve done
the same. I never sold myself. Perhaps that’s why in
the thick of quarantine, I feel more than lonely—I am
worthless. Or worth less. I’m getting older. 42 this
October. I had a dream about you last night. You
hugged me and when I pulled back you hugged
me again. It’s been five years since I met you in New
York, gave you a handkerchief cross-stitched with my
blood—a stranger’s tooth bought in a second-hand
store. Here is how Chicago went down. You knew
brushing turned me on, so invited me to your room.
We lathered and spit together. You’re a bleeder. You
should floss more and go to the dentist often. It’s ok
to be clean. It’s taken me years to learn that. I thought
I’d marry you, but I slept with one of the catalogue authors
instead. Same night as the brushing. You thought I was
making a choice. A bad one. I thought you should take
your pollen advice and stick it up your ass. Who thinks
of shit like that? Words that seem to go on forever. Idioms.
They’re just too easy. Did you know, unlike animals or
humans, plants self-replicate, that is, under the right
circumstances they live forever. I was always too dirty
for you but that didn’t make a dream of forgiveness any
less sweet, Honey Pot. I just gave you that nickname.
In this poem. Yes, this is a poem. If anyone were to read
this, I’d want them to know I love you. Maybe one day
they’ll tell you about it? A good story is rooted in gossip.
A good poem is just a mask. How might you edit Happy’s
title? In case you forgot, it goes, “Feast your eyes on
the world’s top 8 sexiest plants.” The other two. Well.
They never happened.
—from Rattle #76, Summer 2022
Nicelle Davis: “During quarantine, I discovered YouTube and the world of plant influencers. At first, I watched with morbid curiosity. People spend more on a house plant than my car-home-salary combined. Eventually, I found myself lulled by the motions of things getting watered. Now I’m the proud owner of over 200 common house plants. They filled the emptiness of 200+ in-person students, family, friends, poets, strangers. My plants helped me recognize an impulse to care and gave me an outlet to verb love. I once was a girl who just let things die—but no more. I’m a convert to fertilizers, aerated soil mixes, and watering schedules. My creative team has made its own YouTube channel called Plants, Painting, and Poetry.” (web)