by Veronica Elizabeth Thomas
The devil came around and the flowers bloomed.
I couldn't see your wicked smile clearly from behind the brush.
You came knocking, three raps to my door that I gleefully swung open. I was so ready to fill this empty
What am I getting myself into? I thought. But covered like pollen your sweet words, fresh and soft, clung
to me. Through one ear and out the other, squeaking clean all doubts I had resting in my mind.
How could I doubt you when you were yet to be truly you? I thought. I greedily clawed at your nine ring
fortress of bark and branches, swallowing the poisonous parts of you to hide them away, to keep you safe.
I thought I could unravel you. I thought I could free you. I thought you would finally open to me the way
I opened myself, my home, my world to you.
Maybe he needs more time? I thought. Seventy times seven. I count the times I strangled my morality for
your comfortability. I count the times I shriveled up and held my tongue to spare our peace. Every time, I
shied away from your snarl, your icy wrath wrapping its claws around my waist and pulling me
underground in a burning shame from the jut of a cold shoulder. I craved every moment, every nectar
filled conversation, lapping up every word and savoring every lie.
Maybe I am not enough? I thought. I cracked myself open for your flesh-toned spadix but you dismiss
me, almost thriving gleefully that at any moment you could pluck one of my petals, slowly destroying me.
Slowly denying me.
And as wide as your leaves grew, so did your smile, stretching across your chestnut colored face,
tightening your full lips. I mistook you horns for thorns for trimming. I mistook your apathy for a sleeping
bloom in need of warmth. I mistook your cold nature for a heart that needed a home.
I am no longer accepting passivity to my willingness. I am no longer accepting passivity to my love.
I can no longer stand by and allow you to fill each crevice of my mind. Allowing you to swallow whole
the thoughts that made me me and replace them with eucalyptus seeds of you that would grow until you
are all I can smell, all I can taste, all I can see until I am gone- no, smothered, in an intricate moss of you-
I have come to realize, that my home has always been full. Full with me and my creativity.
And finally... I left the devil and the flowers wilt.
But, in time, they will always bloom again.
I am a Philadelphia based writer and activist. My artistic practice focuses on documenting the experiences of Africana women through a womanist lens. I am currently studying Africology and African American Studies at Temple University and curating the art and prose as Editor-in-Chief for Call + Response Journal.