For a week, the rose lived. Nightly, I brushed my nose against petals, preferring you. This is what I know: when a rose begins to die it gives up its color. At the edges, hardness and darkness take shape. Inside, blushing red petals cling to each other. This is a final intimacy, a softness enduring.
I know because I pulled at the petals till I got to the core, and I held the petals against my outstretched palm, fascinated by the natural bends, the blends of red—I don’t want our love to take on these darker shades. I want us as the last two petals on the stem. I remember Vermont and Italy and the miles in between; my belly without your hand; your chest without my head. We don’t wait under different time zones now, but I’m still asking you to come home.
Last February you were late enough to our date that I pictured your stopping at a busy street corner to get the flowers I told you not to get. I didn’t think I needed flowers to tell me that you loved me. I’ve learned not to walk away, so I ordered without you. When you rushed through the door without flowers, I wanted not to want.
I can’t stand roses dying in the name of romance. That day you showed up at my door with the red rose, I took it without saying thank you. I didn’t think I was the type to need flowers. I’m taking notes on how the rose is dying, saving its red. I’m taking notes for when you