by Nicelle Davis
Why do you think adding 200 plants to your new house makes you less lonely? (1)
A friend helps me unstitch an old wound; the fluids have turned colors I’ve never seen before. I’ll pen you a picture of home from this well. Every wall resembles a greenish cardiac plexus. Spiders have butterflied one plant to another. Gossamer sparks like day stars from my windows. My, that dirty word, always precedes betrayal. You’re dripping, is the last thing my lover said. No longer mine, but remembered. Leaves fold in on themselves when dry. They must be watered, so I do. Sometimes guilt is our only form of resurrection.
When a plant dies, have you considered a real funeral complete with speeches and a buffet? (2)
When a kid breaks another kid’s ribs you can hear it from the distance of you’re always too late, you stupid bitch. When a Philodendron stem breaks, scent of a jungle covers my desert. It’s all wrong; I can smell that. The day after a code red, return to work is expected with amnesia. 9th grade blood marks the floors. I find a tooth outside the lunchroom. There are days I teach with the tooth in my palm—hand, mouth-of-a-bitch—knocking on each desk that isn’t paying attention. I bring plants for students to name: RonRon, Aaron, Tyron. They check that I water them—that they don’t die this year.
How do you resuscitate a plant after it freezes? (3)
Oh, it’s getting increasingly difficult to pretend we are talking flora. For plants, it’s simple. Bring them inside. Leave them alone. If leaves are severely damaged, they die, fall off, new ones take their place. Now people are a little different. Try mouth to mouth with a broken heart. It’s a different sort of chill. Almost hot, like blood out of the body. The wound from where it came, alive, but different. I once fell into the Snake River late November. Invisible pins and needles all over my body, moving waves of fire. Dying I thought, my god how alive I am in this heat.
(1) Plant question by Annette Schiebout
(2) Plant question by Ron Koertge
(3) Plant Question by Brian Sonia-Wallace
Nicelle Davis is a California poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. Her poetry collections include The Walled Wife (Red Hen Press, 2016), In the Circus of You (Rose Metal Press, 2015), Becoming Judas (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Circe (Lowbrow Press, 2011). Her poetry film collaborations with Cheryl Gross have been shown across the world. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, MHA, Volunteers of America in their Homeless Youth Center, and with Red Hen’s WITS program. She is the creator of The Poetry Circus and collaborator on the Nevermore Poetry Festival. She currently teaches at Knight High School.