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Vale

Rain-wet, the green plush of the valley floor. A rivulet.
Water slicks down the long leaves, richly indulgent.
A heavy mat of heresy.
The fluid thrust threatens exfoliation,

Leaves tremble & loosen in their follicles.
A hush of narcissus dips their golden brows in suppliance,
Mindful not to sully their white mantles.
They extol in a single note from their golden throats,

Mindful of the burden of their tonic freight.
Uncareless, obsessed with apology, it's true they are ashamed.
The issue at the fist of their union—not a bulb, but a tumor—
Some malignancy—

What caused this rot? A visit from a hoverfly? What's left?
Vacuole in fleshy tissues. Stringy papers crushed between two fingers.
This closed fist was once an open palm
With honesty & rivulets, precedence & experience.

I must witness the machine that destroyed this, viable plant
The victim of internal phage.
An egg, yes, a promise—gellied, in fantastic membrane,
Satisfied & undelectable.

After the green show, the fruit ripens, the follicle ruptures,
Its sentient parcel throbs & magnifies: Smear of protein,
Chunk of soma,
Garnet orb of blood.

This is the wrong cell—What have you borne me?
This happy growth is virulent, & what manifests—
Those treasured lobes aren't blackberries,
Those precious nodules a ribbon of pestilence.

No longer the proud, turgid stems, now a vascular deficiency.
They bow their heads. In shame. The narcissus are toxic
With apologies. They offer only humility—Lysis
Like a killing sigh: This is goodbye forever; this is goodbye.

—Deborah W. Pattillo



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