The Rose Series: The Price of Love

blossoms abundant

snipped blooms carried home as gifts

we all live for love

(c) Janni Styles

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Double Standards

Home was a safe place in our A frame house in the country until the day the phone rang and my mother answered it only to start weeping ferociously. At six I was old enough to help with some things so when she gestured for me to pass her her cigarettes and lighter, I did.

I stood watching her for a while, her pretty legs crossed and pink chenille mule style slippers keeping her feet warm in our drafty winter home. I wanted to know what was wrong but I knew I couldn’t ask until she was off the phone. I idly played with some toys and books nearby, keeping an eye and ear pealed toward mom’s conversation.

My mind ran to all sorts of catastrophes including about dad and my older brothers and sister. It’s a good thing something happened to take my attention off my impatience before I got myself into trouble for interrupting Mom on the phone.

Mom lit a second cigarette and at once, her laquered bun she’d carefully crafted to look pretty like I Dream of Jeannie’s hair, took to flame. I tried to get her attention.

“Mommy, Mommy, your hair is on fire!” I said this several times but she whooshed me away with the hand holding the freshly lit cigarette.  I was panicking and thought about grabbing a bowl of water to pour on her head when she suddenly dropped the phone and it swayed to and fro on the black curly cord.

She set her cigarette down in the ashtray and began pounding at her head with both hands, smashing the stenchy bun down altogether and collapsing the flames while looking at me.

“Why didn’t you say something?” she asked.

“I did,” I said. “Lots of times I did!”

“Well, I never heard you,” she said before picking up her cigarette, grabbing the phone back up to her ear and resuming her tearful conversation.

When she finished the call she told us kids her grandaddy had died. We didn’t know him so it wasn’t upsetting to us but we knew death was a bad thing that meant you’d never see the person again so we felt sorry for Mommy. We knew our loving grandfathers and couldn’t imagine losing them.

Upstairs I went to resume playing with my sisters, our makeshift Sears catalogue people and furnishings our little dolls and houses which we often spent hours enjoying.  All at once Mom bellered up the stairs with such a start to us that we two girls jumped.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, thinking she’d had another phone call.

“I’ve been calling you for ages. Come down here and watch the babies while I cook supper,” she said. “How many times does a person have to call you?”

“Well, I never heard you,” I said as I skipped down the stairs to help.

“You hear just what you want to hear,” she said.

(c) Janni Styles

(Originally posted here in 2015 as a prompted piece in a weekly fiction feature)

The Rose Series: False Virtues

Sister Rosa, please do tell

why so many see writing truth

as speaking unwell

 

They are mistaken, said she,

the false virtue they protect their own

for the dead are long gone and free

 

Never mind what they all do

nevermind what they all say

just you keep on being you

 

They all know you speak facts

they lived through it all, too,

just don’t be unkind or nastily wax

 

Truth is a light many wish to dim

just keep writing truths no matter the chatter

it is always worth it to grow a new limb

 

More joy to be had from more blooms

to silence the naysayers wittering

about bodies long since entombed

 

They forget the soul is flying high

they know not what true loyalty is

just keep writing truth across the sky

(c) Janni Styles

 

 

 

 

The Rose Series: Best Things

Nodding together in the wind

the roses spoke softly:

some humans spend their

whole lives

searching

never realizing the simple things

are the best things

opening a new bar of soap

the fragrance of fresh cut grass

resting your head on a soft pillow

reading by a sunny window

Look, there go more seekers

racing to places and acquiring

things they think they need

Oh, what will they do

when all the petals fall

when lingering to touch

a rose

is no longer possible?

Their heavy heads bowed:

Will they still remember us?

(c) Janni Styles

The Rose Series: Threadbare

times were memorable

rose gardens plentiful

back before their hearts

were worn threadbare

 

now there is nothing

between two strangers

save a hollow name

nobody ever called her

 

yet the garden flourishes

rain and sunshine nourishes

for the wise roses always know

everything blooms again

(c) Janni Styles

Never Enough

No matter the warnings

no matter the knowing

now is never a good time

to see loved ones going

 

Yes they may soar free

no more suffering or pain

we take the hurt of knowing

we’ll never see them here again

 

Never enough time to remember

all the things we needed to say

the world darkens in an instant

while we long for just another day

 

Heaven is our hope for them

death makes us all believers

the only way we can make sense

of all life’s too early leavers

 

No matter the comforts we speak

no matter the sooth saying done

longing of the heart never ceases

we just want them back not gone

 

(c) Janni Styles

The Rose Series: Tarnished

once trust is soundly breached

there is no timely repair

rivers of roses never enough

to get you both back there

once your love is violated

by those possessing fork tongue

no apology will ever suffice

what’s been said is done

please keep your tarnished roses

give them to someone else

I deserve the purest flowers

you never deserved myself

(c) Janni Styles