Dying Gardenia

by Carla Sameth

Talk to no one
about what goes on, the gardener
senses your hurt goes beyond
the dying gardenia. The jacaranda
that refuses to flower,
lemon tree that will not
bear fruit. Tell yourself,
it’s not a child,
a husband or wife. Still,
you feel the loss,
of scent and taste, a sign
of what?

Most poems in these earlier
pandemic days feature viruses,
breathing, bread,
and 7 pm cheers. Partying crowds
no distance. Like the LAPD.
No mask, travel in packs,
not protecting, not serving.

But the birds,
if it weren’t for them, hummingbirds
darting over Bird of Paradise, the noisy
ones like the wild parrots, silence
would fill your heart.

Oyster shell filled with emptiness,
missing pearls. Hold your belly
where you feel loved ones.
Touch your heart,
imagine ragged edges,
fissures like angel hair pasta
and fireworks. Gum
stuck under the table, landed
in your hair when you crawled there
looking for company.

Many hours I draft, trickle away
untended like the wilted
gardenia, left hot,
thirsting for days,
then drowning, spent.
I simply cease
to talk, stifled by need
to see your face,
touch your lips,
speak to you

Carla Sameth’s memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, was published in 2019. Her work on blended/unblended, queer, biracial and single parenting appears in The Rumpus, MUTHA Magazine, Brain,Child, Narratively, Longreads, Brevity Blog, Entropy, Full Grown People, Angels Flight Literary West and The Nervous Breakdown. Carla’s essay, “If This Is So, Why Am I?” was selected as a notable for the 2019 Best American Essays. Her chapbook, What is Left is forthcoming (November 2021) with Dancing Girl Press. A Pasadena Rose Poet, a Pride Poet with West Hollywood, and a former PEN in The Community Teaching Artist, she teaches creative writing to high school and university students, and to incarcerated youth. Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice