“I begin to grow. Someone cares enough to help me settle down. They shower me with love through the trickling of water. They bring this intimacy into my life and I am hugging the element of warmth. I continue to grow. They hold these expectations from me. And I blossom. And my color. They can’t even describe it. The beauty is overwhelming. My color captivates their attention the way the color of their eyes anchor themselves in my memory. Strangers admire me from a distance. There’s always that one person who comes too close. Their hand is scratching to pick me. But they never do. They know if they pick me, I won’t last much longer. They know I am not artificial and that sooner or later, if their sinful hands, their forbidding and indelicate hands, touch me, and snatch me from my roots, I will no longer be beautiful. I will start withering away. My once luscious, green leaves will become crispy, brown litterfall. And before it’s too late, you will look at me with concern, but you will continue passing me each day. Soon you’ll stop feeding me. My warmth becomes the cold touch of death. One petal will fall, then another. Until I am left with a stem. My head is no longer protected. I am prone to anyone’s attack. But now, the length of my life is a downward spiral. My beauty slowly disintegrates back to the land that birthed me. And you don’t want me anymore.”
Devita Mohandeo, a finalist in this year’s Academy of American Poets Prize, is a junior political science major.