When someone whispers love into her ear,
she thinks of this: the whorls of roses, tight
and flush with sanguine hues, a cloudless sky
in spring, the heaving breeze of April. Love
means gazing. Love means taking them within
your hands, admiring their beauty, falling
deep inside the swirling galaxy
of their embrace, and watching them light up
at dawn and dusk as sunrays coax the sepal’s
red to pink. She’s learned that love means taking
blossoms in your hands and cusping them.
Love means crushing petals, breathing in
the sweet perfume of respiration. Love
plucks them from the secrets of their bushes
and verdant crowns of leaves with violence. Love
means severing the stem from root, the root
from soil. Her roses wouldn’t bloom so fierce
if not for love, she tells herself. And so
her body bristles at the serenade.
She prefers the silence of her garden.
Katherine Hoerth is the author of three poetry collections, including Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots, which won the Helen C. Smith Prize for the best book of poetry in Texas in 2015. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Lamar University and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Lamar University Literary Press.