after Divyasri Krishnan’s ‘Girl as an animal of regret’
in a perfect world, i am ageless.
chrysanthemums stay in bloom.
chai leaves swirl down as spring
rain. milky mists rise from the earth,
frothing. in the mornings, my father
wishes me a good day, his hand on my
mother’s far shoulder as i leave. his
hand still normal. his irises not
bleeding. his brain not bleeding.
but in this real world, red poppies
fill the garden. fill the yard. fill his
mouth. when he speaks, scarlet petals
peel off his tongue like a scab. bandaids
don’t heal wounds. i am disheartened
and unlearning hope the way a shovel
conceals graves. and in this real world,
he is in that grave, and i am the shovel,
spilling my regrets from the lips,
down the walls, onto a glorified box.
i can live because he died.
in the mornings, i drink tea by myself,
reminded of how now weeds grow
in place of my body. how the air
stinks of 1 part guilt, 1 part shame.
i will die eventually, just like my father,
alone with my thoughts, answering to
an unrelenting gust of bitter leaves falling
into stained cups like my childhood dreams.
remind me again of the everlasting chrysanthemums.
remind me again why i dream at all
k.p.fen (she/her) is a Filipina-American who resides in New Jersey with her loving husband and cat. She tries not to define herself by occupation or her mental illness, but recognizes they continue to shape her life. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Post Grad Journal, In Her Space Journal, and New Note Poetry. You can find her reading at open mics throughout the state and on Instagram at @inkdroplets.