Sweet peas: A poem

Person sitting on a hill with flowers
Alexander Hong/Staff

Violet —

I always thought it smelled like hope.

Fuchsia —

I always thought it tasted like rose hip tea.

Pink —

I always thought it felt like satin.


And all these colors intermingle

Obscenely intertwining on the petals

Of sweet peas twisting along the pavement

Twining between my fingertips

Curling under my nails

Pressing into my bloodstream

With sticky, sappy trails.


Crimson —

I always thought it smelled like iron.

Black —

I always thought it tasted like blood.

Purple —

I always thought it felt like bruises.


And all these colors intermingle

Grotesquely blending on the skin

Stretched a bit too tight across my bones

Painting galaxies on my flesh

Crawling across my knuckles

Hiding under Band-Aids and sleeves

With sinister, subversive cunning.


Crimson and violet —

Together they smell like sweet peas.

Fuchsia and black —

Combined they taste like licorice.

Pink and purple —

Blended together they feel like a memory.


A memory of picking sweet peas and tucking them behind my ears and in my hair

Of smelling their perfume hanging heavily in the summer air

Dancing alongside the scent of peaches, just overripe

Like me, unbruised — until someone came and picked them

And dropped them

And stopped them

And chewed them up

And threw them up

And decided peach wasn’t their color

Decided sweet peas weren’t their style.


I think someday when I die

I want sweet peas planted over my grave

So that when my mom visits me

She’ll remember the summer air

And when my father visits me

He’ll remember afternoon runs

And when my friends visit me

They’ll know that the sweet peas sprouting from my skin

Came from sweetness planted within

Grown in the hothouse of my breathing chest

Bloomed, plucked and properly dressed.


I am a garden of violet

Of bruises and blossoms too

And I really just want to ask a question —

Do I smell like sweet peas to you?

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Contact Olivia Staser at [email protected].