Tori Rae Davis

May

My mother used to grow red roses
the same color as her hair,
in the garden out back.

She would wake up every morning,
rub the sleep from her eyes,
and trim back the leaves with such precision,
making sure that she handled the delicate flowers with care.
My mother was like this with everything she did.

Her small hands twisting the petals through her fingertips
with a face that longed for something more than a garden
and a three-bedroom home
that wasn’t even hers to keep.

Her hair just to her shoulders—
it never seems to grow any longer
no matter how hard she tries.

My mother is a woman who wants everything
and gets half of what she deserves.

She scrubs the floorboards of our home
till the splinters wear down,
unable to bury themselves in the soles of our feet
for at least two weeks.
Never longer though.
Our home so old that it’s spitting up the wood

My mother can’t stand this.
Her frail fingers unwilling to wrap themselves
around sharp edges in fear of coming up with a fistful
of thorns.

My mother used to grow red roses
the same color as her hair,
in the garden out back.

Her fingers twisting through the petals,
she stands in the neighbor’s yard,
longing.