national anthology of the best
undergraduate writing 2010

On My Window Sill, the Pink Carnation Still Blooms into Late February


Carnal, Kristi Carroll

I know—
the sage-scented pages
of my mother’s journal, in which
I read about my birth. She writes
of winter in Virginia, of marriage
and children, of
my father and the first time
that he saw her naked, standing shy
by their bed, she said
he looked disgusted.

 

—its full hips and the red-
tipped lips of its petals, how
they fold in on themselves
in the night. I know

 

how I hate. After dinner,
I watch him follow her
down the hall to her bedroom
and close the door. I can hear them
through the wall. Teeth to
my skin, I hate in bruises
that appear in the morning, silent
at breakfast, I hate louder
than them last night. Throat-
moans,
the iron bed posts, scrape
of teeth in my sleep and the dull
sound
of silverware.

 

—its hard bulb in my hand, soft
sex. I could close
my fingers around it
in a tight fist and squeeze, I could
let out all that pink. I know

 

my mother’s shape in the dark
where I saw her standing
that night by the window, quiet
hands on its pane. Outside,
tender night just
turned, the moon hung heavy
as a white pear, ripening
on the branches of trees.

 

—my new roots
and slender stem, the infinity
of petals and the way
forever folds. My body
on the bed where I lie, my breasts,
like pink carnations—in bloom.