How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

Hanif Abdurraqib

Forgive me, for I have been nurturing my well-worn
grudges against beauty. I am hoping my neighbors

will show some mercy on me for backing my car into
the garden & crushing what I will say were the peonies.

a flower with a short season. born dying. some might say
it’s a blessing to know your entrances & exits. forgive me, for

I have once again been recklessly made responsible
for the curation of softness & have instead returned with another

torrent of viciousness. in the brief moment of their flourish,
at the opening of spring, I drove across state lines to gather peonies for a woman

who loved me once. as a way of surrender, I pull the already
dying thing from the earth in a mess of tangled knots & I insist

that you must keep it alive for a year, even after it so desperately
wants to be done with the foolishness of its living. The last thing

I ask of this relationship is to burden you with another relationship.
it is so delicious to define the misery you are putting a body out of.

& just like that, we are talking about power. how awful this must be for you
I whispered as I closed my eyes & put the car into reverse.