Post-Ghost Elegy for Spring Succulents

by Stephanie Tom

art by Havi Rojer

It wasn’t until yesterday I realized that 

the two succulents I had potted earlier 

in the year had withered into husks 

a few weeks ago. They had lived and died 

within the span of a spring cut short, 

barely born. Like fever dreams and cherry

blossoms. This is the third time it’s 

happened in my life – to plants, at least. 

Spring has always come back before, but 

I’m not so sure that you can hold it to feel 

like as much of an absolute anymore.

Please excuse this paltry elegy for all of

the sadness I can’t find the names for.

I have spent far too many summer days

walking through my existential crises in 

a Party City on a quiet afternoon. Too far

from holidays and too far from every 

birthday once Cancer season ends. It’s been 

years since I’ve thrown a birthday party but I 

can’t ever forget the humming excitement 

they entailed. I walk through the aisles & am 

overwhelmed by the candles around me.

How does it feel to watch the years flash by?

Names are barely memories when they’re 

scattered, confetti on plastic tablecloths. 

When I sweep a hand over them they flutter 

to the floor in clouds almost too thick to read. 

Candy floss & pink streamers reach for my 

senses, the tulle & frills mocking me. I brush a 

hand through them & hope they disappear. 

I want to lose myself in pastels & crepe paper –

I want to be soluble, to be solvable. Is that 

too much to hope for on rainy days like this?

On my actual birthday I eat cake in the dark 

and watch the clock flicker as the storm outside

howls louder. If I listen close enough, I can 

almost hear a voice calling my name. I laugh –

the clock glows green, the wind dies down. 

I have been hurt too many times to know 

what it would feel like to be okay nowadays,

but I am big enough to admit two truths: 

succulents always bloom brighter when you 

saint them as fleeting colors, and there are

certainly not as many things that can be 

taken as truthful absolutes anymore. 

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