Apology to Alteo - Raye Hendrix

Congratulations to Raye Hendrix, 2019 winner of the New Writers Project Keene Prize for Literature from UT Austin! Rae’s poem “Apology to Alteo” was originally published in Issue 27.2 of The Pinch.

At the store I buy silk flowers

after I kill an amaryllis—

a plant I’m told can outlive

winter—in under a week.

By now I’ve learned

I can only grow the things

that will never blossom:

Rosemary. Basil.

Things that begin

in a body. The sound

of amaryllis—syllabic reds—

and even lesser words

are browning petals against

my tongue, stillborn

in the womb of my mouth.

At the store I buy silk flowers.

I water them until they learn

to breathe.