The Rose Garden
BY A. E. LONG
LaSwap Sixth Form, ’16
2016 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors’ List
inside the sun: a white-hot
bathroom. a girl’s
melting soaking soap-hands peeling
away a dress. she is looking,
with bruise-yellow eyes, at a red heart
steaming on the shower glass, at
its cold milky case. it slinks off,
after a few days.
this is not an afterlife—it is
The Rose Garden. please do not dip
your fingers in the lake. she looks
with bruise-yellow eyes at the creamy pink
water gleaming. pomegranates
drip poison molasses:
saliva. flowerbeds, rhododendrons, ladybugs
blinking. wine-coloured ants chewing
strawberry roadkill, a soft
handful of brain.
she picks at her razor-burns. blue sky
varnishes, and as the twin suns set
it glows a dusky puce.
she eats the empty wet oranges,
wondering if those little waxy nuggets
are peppermints or his teeth.