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Purple Irises This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Rain patters in the puddles outside
and I stare at those puddles real hard
so that you don't know I can see you
crying. The rain drips down the old sycamore
as we sit by the window and pretend that you're okay.
Your fancy shoes rest flat on
the floor and my bare feet dangle
way above. The chairs are high but you
are tall. You're really quiet and it makes me scared.
I don't like it when you cry.
The purple iris you wear in your hair
blinks at me as you hide your face
behind a curtain of blond
to wipe the tears away.

Later, we go outside. The rain has
slowed to a drizzle.
I make you leave the iris inside
so that it doesn't drown in the rain.
You laugh at that, and I feel good
because I've made you happy again.
We sit in the bed of pebbles by the evergreen trees
in the corner of our yard. We don't talk.
Just being with you is nice,
even if you're not happy.
I don't see you much since you're
always angry or moody or sad. You don't
want to hurt us, you say, so you go to your room
and lock yourself in. I don't know what you
do in there, but Mom and Dad always make
worried faces at each other.

I can't sit still for long, so we get up.
We go to Mom's garden.
We see the flowers that she so carefully tends.
Lilies, roses, bird of paradise. Irises. I pick
you a new iris even though it's raining and you smile
as you place it in your hair.
But I know that you don't mean it because
your eyes can't lie. Your eyes are sad.

There's a pond in her garden and we watch quietly
our reflections quietly watch. Your eyes
are rimmed with charcoal and I think
you'd be prettier without all of that stuff
on your face but of course I don't say so.
There's fish in the pond. I ask you if there's
jellyfish and you tell me that jellyfish are in the ocean.
It's just goldfish in this pond. I sigh.
I picture the pond opening up, breaking free
connecting with the creek a few blocks down
which connects with the river
which goes to the ocean. Maybe then
we'll get some jellyfish in this pond.

That was two years ago.
Last night, it snowed. The snowfall
made the garden white and dead.
I haven't been, but I can see it from our window.
You're gone now, at a school that's far, far away.
Your room used to be a huge sand dune of clothes
all piled up everywhere.
Shoes thrown this way and that, sticks of eyeliner
littering your dresser. Now, it's all naked.
The room has no clothes or shoes or eyeliner on and it misses you.

I go in your room sometimes on rainy days
to remember the way you
smell like purple irises after the rain.
It's a special school, Mom says. You're
getting better, she tells me. You have friends, and you like it there.
She doesn't say so but it's hidden
beneath her light words:
you like it there much more than you ever liked it here.

Think of me sometimes, will you?
I'm sorry you had to be sad.

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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