A Rose by Any Other Name This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 14, 2012
By , Moraga, CA
You never needed words like I did. You had your smile,
your laugh, eventually your fists. I gave you carefully constructed sentences,
poems new and raw as the tulip I picked for you in spring
and you took those poems and tore apart the words, the meaning,
made them worthless.

I have no words left for you. I used the last of them
to try and scream back at you, but you were too far gone in your rage
to hear me. You didn't need words that night;
I learned enough from your fists.

Last fall we planted tulips. I read the instructions on the package,
determined to follow each step correctly, and we planted and
dug and pounded the dirt and I still remember the way my hands came clean
in the water afterward and you had dirt under your nails for days. The tulips died,
all but one, and I picked it for you in spring. We should have read the directions
more carefully, I told you.

You never could follow rules, and you tossed aside the package,
disregarding the instructions to producing lavender blooms.
I clasped the directions with careful fingers
and read each step thoroughly, each deliberate sentence, but
you had started digging anyway. Words never meant much to you.

You took the words from me on a night in December, and I fought just long enough
to give the police my written statement, but then they were gone.
I didn't know it was possible to lose words, but then
I also didn't know it was possible to stand in the flat dirt of your front yard
and feel my heart beat fast for any reason other than your touch.

There was dirt on my hands and on my knees as I sat, bleary-eyed
in the station. It blended with my bruises as I deliberated
each sentence, scared to finally incriminate you and yet terrified
to write anything redeeming as the flowery poems I once gave you. Relinquishing
my final statement to the officer, he read and repeated it dryly.

He gave little notice to the dirt crusted under my nails
as he read my words. My story became information on his lips.
I hated the way the officer said your name
like it was his now;

It was.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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