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Sunflowers by Jenny George


The world feels different when you lose someone. Colours become faded for awhile, as if they have bled through the hole where your heart used to be, and it’s only your hand over your chest that prevents everything from haemorrhaging completely—your stupid hand clutching cloth and skin, a weak fist.

One time I woke up in the middle of the night with blood all over me. I must’ve scratched myself in my sleep. Shallow as the wound was it was still a wound, and I wondered what I so desperately clawed my way out of, if I was in the clear, if I have saved myself. In the morning the mark on my skin reminded me of a thistle. If you asked me what blooms from the pain, I will say this body. This self before you. These fingers which have become claws and when curled towards the centre of my palm becomes a soft stone.

I want the world so desperately sometimes I feel my desire is too wild to contain within my skeleton. Have you ever felt so frenzied about something larger than your life?

I am in the world and what little I can fathom I am grateful for.

I keep thinking about my future selves. The ones I have yet to meet. The ones I have yet to birth. The ones who are still unnamed. What aches do they carry. What joys. What losses will break them open. And will they know they are loved.

The world is different when you love someone. You become a person you are meant to be. Grow into it the way the philodendron leans toward the window seeking more sunlight. Fill yourself to the brim and not think you are in danger of spilling. Because the fullness is what gives you shape, what makes you feel held, what makes you want to live.

Jenny George
I’m in the world but I still want the world.
I’m full of longing and can’t move,
enthralled in the garden. Having died 
all the way back to the root, I grow again 
into a version of the thing I love. I’m her 
and not her, hermaphrodite with a heart 
like a plateful of black flames.
The bees inspect me like doctors. 
All my hard little tears, future selves 
who haven’t grown. Bedclothes swell on the line
while around me giant sunflowers burn
through their masks of radiant desire.

This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day, published by the Academy of American Poets, 2022. Shared here with profound gratitude.


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On This Day

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