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Bloom at the Wither
​by Shaoni C. White

Bloom at the Wither
by Shaoni C. White

Published September 16, 2022

You eat six hundred rosebuds

and vanish from the calendar.

In six hundred years I meet you.

From the same glass we drink

honeysuckle wine and find

a summer drowning in sun

sweet enough to split the year,

days buckling under the ache.

 

We skip lightly over the weeks:

one hydrangea petal

for your mouth, one for mine.

I sneak candied lilacs into

your pockets and entice you

toward richer hours. I press 

chrysanthemums into your palms:

each budding a threshold, 

each petal a door. But still

you swallow bitter tea made 

from bitter roots. You wilt the century

over the far edge of forever.

 

I find you in your father’s orchard.

You drink down dirt, every second

a stillness, every moment a grave.

I kneel with a knife, I beg you

let me uproot this place,

I will grow you sweeter poisons.

 

You grow me six hundred

more rosebuds. On the other side

of six hundred years, you

steal an orange, carve it

 

fiercely, one slice for you,

one slice for me. We bite into

a minute tender enough to yield.

Rueful as a waning month, you say

don’t you worry about me, my dear,

I bloom at the wither.

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Shaoni C. White

Shaoni C. White writes speculative fiction. Their poetry has appeared in smoke and mold, Augur, Fantasy Magazine, and elsewhere. Their short stories have appeared in Uncanny Magazine, PodCastle, Nightmare Magazine, and other venues. Raised in Southern California, they hold a BA in English Literature and Linguistics from Swarthmore College. They spend their free time swing dancing and embroidering. Find them at shaonicwhite.com or on Twitter at @shaonicwhite.