And I, a Wilting Rose by Salam Wosu

I spent all night weeping in the rain begging to be washed away begging for a shoulder to cry on one that will not feed off my weakness

and when the shoulders came I hated them. I am hiding every day I am hiding at night wearing my fears like a cloak and sipping my loneliness small sips I don’t want to run out It comforts me. It kills me, yes. But it comforts me unlike your stories of memories I never had I try to fix those smiles you speak of into my teeth bite them hard into the red of my lip hoping they will stay when they taste blood But this body is wilting and every smile is dying with it.

And I, a wilting rose have been told that to make your body a shrine and offer tears at night is to forget to grow thorns is to forget that a man’s tears are to be swallowed and his emotions buried away (the lessons a father should teach/I never had)

so, I am hiding every night, I am hiding hoping that tomorrow God will send rain to wash off this blood on my lip to fill this hollow in my chest. No rain.

I grow thorns.

Sweet stranger, before you draw me close to your lips know that I am wilting and the soil around me is mourning know that to hold me is to call yourself tree for me to curl beneath your branches and wait for rain know this that you have to learn to pinch off each thorn, piece by piece surely there is a kiss beneath the softness of my petals red with fear, loneliness and blood that never saw rain.

Salam Wosu is a Nigerian chemical engineer, a poet, and aspiring novelist. His works interrogate grief, depression, love, anti chauvinism and sexuality. He was shortlisted for the Korean Nigerian Poetry Fiesta award in 2017 and 2019. His works are published or forthcoming in Glass Poetry Press, Kissing Dynamite, Dream Noir, PIN, RIC Journal, and Mounting the Moon. His is @salam_wosu on all social media platforms.