To All the Men My Mother has Loved

by Lauren Bush

I picked up a book of poetry
from my mother’s nightstand,
and the first poem was underlined–
your name written
on the side with a date reaching
through the years to a time
before I was a glimmer
in her eye. The dried flower
stuck in the yellowed pages
dropped to the floor,
and when I picked it up,
it crumbled in my hand.
Venus Trines at Midnight,
a batch of lovestock: apologies
and letters-to-my-lovers,
extended wailings of the inamorata.
On her fifteenth birthday
she cracked the spine
and syruplanguage spilled out–
coating her in mellowed honey–
all you flies came running headfirst
toward her young embrace.
The honey turned to amber,
sealing you up and like a mosquito
from time gone by
you sit frozen to be analyzed,
studied, and probed.
You deserve to be forgotten
yet I will learn how you ground her down
to the fine powdered
petal on the floor.

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