As a gardener clips the stem of an orchid in the palatial pleasure gardens
so that it may grow anew in a vase of clear water,
I have turned my anther inward, entering myself, the rest of me
still fragrant with death, unopened.
When you severed me from my body, you looked for something
in my negative space but did not find it. I was divided into twelve sections,
all held lightly in your palm. Afterward you took a convex lens to me,
examined my insides, and labeled every part.
Stamen, pistil, petal. My stigma yet untouched by the scalpel. When
you separated me, I was cut twice over. My perianth can never rise again
to flower. In your throat is the last of my sweet nectar,
now yours to drink down, delighting in the bitter aftertaste.
Next up in the portfolio: “Serial” by Jenny Heijun Wills
Kailee Pedersen’s poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Sonora Review, Arcturus, and other journals, as well as in They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets. Adopted from Nanning in 1996 and raised on a farm in Nebraska, Pedersen was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council for writing centered on LGBTQ+ and Asian American themes. Her debut novel, Sacrificial Animals, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in August 2024. https://kaileepedersen.com (updated 10/2023)