Tenderness

While I was young, I did not know
the name of the plant that climbed up
the outer walls of our first house—

but it prospered. I knew from the way
the thorns grappled for every space

on the stalk, aiming for the distant
papery heart outlined in cream and russet.
I still search for it, though I’m told

it thrives best in warmer climes. When
the wind whispers, the buds close in

upon themselves: I don’t blame them.
But when you’re meant to carry fire, you
close the doors and carefully mark off

the place corresponding to the gut: it’s soft
and hollow. It’s hungry and it feeds you.

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