prim pressed posies, by Ai Jiang

do not make what is dead immortal
the stem bone marrow sucked dry
its waters droughted blood spilt no longer 
petals—skin only limbs, muscles stripped,
veins sapped, organs smoked, 
pollen unsewn seeds, dead children crunching
like grinding teeth—brittle whittled belittled life 
lined up on lawns untended,
in front of windows of abandoned houses,
in pots without soil,
in bouquets left to rot, 
prim pressed posies, perfect posing prizes,
pretty peaceful passive princesses, 
perfumed performers pervious to pain, 
pregnant passion left on stage to scatter
applause, no standing ovation, standing
only those leaving, steps crunching
the leftover bones of prim pressed posies
on red carpeted lawns to return to soil that takes
and takes and takes until waterless.


Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer, Ignyte Award winner, Nebula and Locus Award finalist, and an immigrant from Fujian currently residing in Toronto, Ontario. She is a member of HWA and SFWA. Her work can be found in F&SF, The Dark, Uncanny, among others. She is the recipient of Odyssey Workshop’s 2022 Fresh Voices Scholarship and the author of Linghun and I AM AI. Find her on Twitter (@AiJiang_) and online (  

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