My Partner Buys Me Calla Lilies for Mother’s Day After I See Them In Trader Joe’s and Say,
Calla Lilies are the Flowers of Death

Because death is underrated and flowers are flowers are flowers.

We know Diego painted them larger than the women who tried

to embrace them. Because if you look closely, you can see the sex

of a woman in their tongues. While calla means beautiful, their roots,

their petals are poisonous. Trust me. As a mother, I know what to keep

away from children and cats. If you see a drawing of a broken calla lily

on a tombstone, it means someone died young. Thank you

for your thoughtful present. Because purple means passion and yellow

means gratitude. Just like life. Like roses. Yes, the Virgin Mary

grows from calla lilies, but no one painted her skeleton, her blood

red heart held by bones. Because I find reasons not to like what I am

given, I ask, “Why these flowers?” I thought you said, Calla lily flowers

are the best. The blossoms of the best intentions, death shimmers

on the side table, how you dug me my own sweet grave.

Kelli Russell Agodon’s newest book is Dialogues with Rising Tides (Copper Canyon Press) and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer, and she also teaches at Pacific Lutheran University’s low-res MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop.