Their barbed-wire brambles cutting into your skin,
they hold you tight as you heave and gasp for air.
A guardian brushes away the sweat on your forehead,
his fingertips soft and round like acacia leaves,
leaving rubbings of soil grains against your skin.
The flowers can start to erupt any time now –
you can feel their stems coiled in your throat
like a tickling, disconcerting promise of the future,
soft springs wound up and crickets clicking time.
Small insects move in your stomach and heart.
A weeping willow cries out the signal to begin
and the guardians press you down on your knees,
the undergrowth catching your calves, attaching –
like to the like, kin to kin. You can feel the forest
spread into you as your breath pushes out.
You shudder more with promise than with pain,
and – eyes closed – you miss the first glance
but hear the appreciating hisses from the trees.
You do not need to see flowers to recognize them
from the touch they leave behind on your palate.
White flowers unfold from between your lips
and green stalks strain outward. This plant you like,
more than the complacent oats and sunflowers,
well-rounded fluffy marigolds and dusky roses.
It emerges from you and eats you from the outside.
Morning glory. Ololiúqui. The Christmas vine.
Xtabentún. Turbina corymbosa. Many names
but only one sensation. The vines will invade,
breaking your skin, turning calmly on you,
their root and singular life-source. Their parent.
You cannot scream, only whimper and gasp –
there is no room for sound except in your thoughts.
The guardians lower your body onto a rough bed
of weeds and decay. You cannot move any further.
Insects crowd out your nose and take to the treetops.
Rain patters on you softly, tree-branches opening
to the night sky, allowing you peace and rest.
Your mouth is sweet with nectar and ambrosia
and you smile as tears wash over your face.
The bursting season will soon arrive again.
Bogi Takács is a neutrally gendered
Hungarian Jewish person who’s recently moved to the US. Eir speculative
fiction and poetry has been published in venues like Strange
Scigentasy and GigaNotoSaurus. You can visit eir website or find em on Twitter, where e runs a semi-daily recommendation series for #diversestories and #diversepoems.
Payment for this poem was donated to Keshet.
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