"A corpse flower"

"The addition of not"

Jessie Jones

Jessie Jones grew up in the prairies, spent a decade on Vancouver Island and now resides in Montreal. Her writing has been featured in CV2, filling Station, Lemon Hound, Minola Review, PRISM, The Puritan, Arc, B O D Y, and Poetry London (UK). She has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award, Editor’s Choice in Arc’s Poem of the Year prize, and first-runner up PRISM’s Poetry Award. Nix, her first chapbook, was published by Desert Pets Press in 2017. She is the founder of Literistic, and her first poetry collection will be available in fall of 2020.

“‘A corpse flower’ is based on several time-lapse videos on YouTube of corpse flowers blooming in the summer of 2016. Previous to that summer, only 50 blooms had been recorded in the history of cultivation—but suddenly, dozens bloomed within weeks of each other.”

“The addition of not’ takes its title from the artist’s statement accompanying Sarah Meyohas’s video art piece Cloud of Petals, which digitized 10,000 individual rose petals.”

     A corpse flower

     is blooming
     in the Bronx.

     The smell makes men weep
     for their stupid, loose skin.

     Carrion
     on the seasonal balm
     like a body on a wave

     while bodies
     in the waves
     at the city beach
     peek over pavlova suds
     with daffy little

     sucks of breath. The sun bleaches
     and makes radiant
     the ribcage.

     Such effort
     to surface
     and resurface
     our gamy frames,

     near ridiculous.

     In bloom all
     over North America,
     a nightmare
     at the heart
     of botanical gardens.

     The skirt lifts
     for the pinball eyes
     of tourists, spadix
     stately as a centurion.

     A rouged broom.
     A near-perfect specimen
     of death,

     which is to say:
     continual and colourful.

     No one way.

     The large all small
     and cognizant
     when we are one.

     If two, the bridge comes down.

     Zero loves me not
     and the dog park howls.

     The sky fills
     with a whipped
     white wind.

     In binary,
     we are off, two
     life preservers bumping
     bellies in a viscous bath.

     Insert minus
     and it empties.
     The drain gargles jelly.

     To be more, I dig
     with only my signature
     until I locate
     the root of one.

     A beam of light
     like paradise.

     To be counted
     is the love of me
     entirely.

     The cross-eyed prize
     of two.

     From a head of zeroes
     I select a petal
     for its perfect shape
     and colour and texture.

     A sequin without reflection,
     a face flashes in me now.