Christmas Cactus

I left you alone.
Two weeks without water.
When I came back I thought your limbs drooped heavy 
because: flowers.
Some already sticky, rotted fruit, 
others waiting to burst forth into the sun.
I considered giving you away, as easily as you’d been given to me.
You are a cactus, you don’t need water.
If your withered greens fall off in places it’s because you are a cactus.
You don’t need water.
You don’t need love.
You don’t need attention.

Alone at home, I doused you in a bath of tap,
set you outside 
to listen to the insects hum
to feel the warmth of the day’s last rays of sun. 
When chill descended, I brought you in, 
considered dinner:
lion’s mane mushroom rips, garlic smashed, asparagus singed.

When it was done, I turned to find your limbs raised up.
It was probably just a little bit.
But you looked a ballerina, revived and ready to dance

Forgive me, little teacher.
I didn’t love you, I didn’t tend to you.
But you still did the work of bursting forth with flowers.
Forgive how quick I dismiss. 
Forgive how little I look around 
to catch your beauty, most profound.

—Emily Romano

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