After my mother died, my room was filled with roses. When the flowers died, my room was filled with their sweet, rotten stench for weeks on end; it sunk into my pores and into my DNA and years later, I still smell like dead roses. My sister confuses this smell with dead lilies.
A bouquet of red roses was placed atop my mother’s coffin as it lowered six feet down into the earth. After the roses died, I wonder if my mother could smell them like I did? I wonder if she still smells them, or, more likely, how long it took for the roses to disintegrate into dust like her?
We don’t talk about the body after death because we don’t like to be reminded of how vulnerable we really are. In high school, a boy asked me to prom using roses and lilies that were all different shades of reds and oranges and yellows like fire. Lilies like funerals and tombstones and formaldehyde.
I don’t think he meant to remind me of death. I don’t think his intention was to place me in a casket similar to my mother’s with its pink padded walls. I don’t think he realized that’s where I went when I saw his basement covered in bouquets of hellfire. I think he meant the roses to be romantic,
but I looked at them and saw my mother’s putrefying face, saw her intestines eaten away by savage bacteria and bugs, saw her eyelids drying out and peeling back like black and dead and withered lily petals. Embalming does not prevent decomposition, only prolongs it. I have embalmed my mother's memory in the shape of a teal notebook. I cannot tell if it has begun to decay or not.
wrote this for my adv poetry. it started out as an experimental villanelle, but hellopoetry messed with my formatting :/