a bouquet of roses

I find it difficult to resist touching her as she sits beside me. A week goes by without seeing her, and she enters my dreams. I am sitting on the edge of the bathtub soaping her back, braiding her long wet hair. We press our lips together in the room we share. Like sisters. In the cemetery, she cradles a bouquet of blood red roses. We clasp hands above our mother’s grave.

I lean back on the couch with my eyes closed. I hear her breathing beside me. My hand rests on the cushion beside her thighs. Her head inches from mine. I pretend we are on a long car trip, in the backseat together like girls. The car will come to a bend in the road and her head will shift, making a pillow of my shoulder.

I imagine our breasts touching. I recall the neighbor who lived in the blue catty corner house. As children she climbed on top of me, pressed the length of her body into me. Placing a hand between our mouths, we kissed the hands and made a motion that caused the treehouse to sway. We called this playing house. This woman frosts a cake in my kitchen. She takes a nap in my bedroom and I find her hair in my bed days later.


Valerie Wetlaufer is Poetry Editor of Quarterly West and a doctoral fellow at the University of Utah. She has an MFA from Florida State University and an MAT from Bennington College. When she’s not teaching and writing poems, she’s a birth doula.