The smashed orchid on the sidewalk
has been doctored: beribboned, and dyed.
Its petals are wilting, rimmed with dirt.
This prom night roadkill
kindles memories of itchy zippers and silver eyeshadow.
I used to count the bobby pins in my hair
as I pulled them free at the end of the night.
Every evening gown felt like a costume,
and the cruelty of these rituals lies in their deception,
as they stir the desire to be pretty and in love
in ways that have never been real,
will never be real.
We are taught to believe these fantasies
lies that leave us unprepared
to be so disillusioned by their aftermath.
I remember the cut of the dress
that I wore to my first formal dance,
and the creases it left in my skin
when I woke up in it the next morning.
I felt hollow, like my body was nothing more
than a papier-mâché crust,
just as vulnerable as an orchid corsage
crushed against the ground.
When I was eighteen,
and my roommate wanted to kill herself,
she left a note where she knew I would find it.
It was covered in a mosaic of pills,
far ranging in opacity and hue.
When I returned to the room with help,
the note was gone.
The pills had been dumped into a plastic bowl
printed with cartoon characters.
Not all cries for help are in languages I can understand.
Later, when she was expelled from school,
I felt the requisite regret for being unable
to translate her disturbances
in a way that might have mattered.
When I think of her now,
I wonder if she’s alive,
and whether she still stacks pills in cereal bowls,
like breakfast rations
for the last day she’ll ever have,
like last resorts
in case she lasts too long.
Tires for Tombstones
on a painting at the Artists’ Hand Gallery
These woods are where
trucks go to die,
a graveyard of rusted chassis in place of monuments,
collected wheels adorned with clots of mud.
There’s a sacredness to the juxtaposition
of industrial steel and rampant weeds,
to the hulking, metal machines,
driven through the trees and left to their slow rot.
No one carts them away.
The roots grow through their open spaces.
It’s almost like they belong here.
Cara Losier Chanoine is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher from New England. She is a four-time competitor in the National Poetry Slam, and her first collection of poems was released by Scars Publications in 2013. She loves books, rats, bad horror movies, and David Bowie.