Blossoms Snap from Painted Vases

“a half-shattered vase can hold again.”

a vase is beautiful, painted,
bursting with life and the stems shoved down its throat,
and holds & holds & holds,
lose its leafing,
turn around to hide
the glue piecing large bits together,
a half-shattered vase can hold again.

the handful of chores brimming from her arms,
dropping, spilling, trailing around,
forgotten slivers of laundry on its way,
absent from the record, willfully neglected,
invisible labor for those who choose,
to blink when it happens.
what incredible things happen, on burning
a quarter tank of gas, pooling to chase a pill,
mama’s knee creaks up the stairs,
the porcelain pieces shift in the glue.

i am asked a question and
yet again
no space to answer
which does he want, I wonder,
to hear, to talk, to hear what he hears
and only
the echo sounds down the earthenware stem,
blossoms spurt down, waiting to snap.

what grows outside & makes us more than we can bear
loud, clustered chokes ripping through the air
keeps men complaining through the night
the warm spot my sister leaves on my spotted twin bed
the crook my head outgrew between my mother’s waist &
bathroom stalls become prayer circles for familiar
the force my grandmother cradles my face and kisses my
could leave bruises in the dust collecting on pottery skin

the greatest fear
outside buzzing, caring, laughing, mourning, and all the
the work is not seen
the work is only seen
the vase lives on,
with ready to wilt flowers or without

Reema Saleh, AB’21, is a graduate student in the Harris School of Public Policy.

“Blossoms Snap from Painted Vases” first ran in the November 2021 issue of the student literary publication Sliced Bread Magazine. © 2021 by Reema Saleh. Used with permission.