It is December, and our window ledge
is lined with plants—
bamboo shoots, devil’s ivy, an elephant bush,
two cacti, one orange, one yellow, and
a large rhododendron shadowing two, new
sprouts. We’ve collected these
over two-and-a-half years, purchased
new pots and soil, tried different windows
and porches to identify the right combination
of direct and ambient light.
We thought we had the balance
figured out. But as I put away the watering can
just before bed on an unusually
cold night, I notice the fishbowl
beside the plants appears still and vacant.
Our deep blue Betta, hidden from view,
takes minutes to find, motionless, belly
up inside his toy castle. I pause.
My eyes fill gently like
the trays beneath the pots, like
the fishbowl itself. I am alone in this
moment— you have been asleep for hours.
I set down the watering can, leave
the dead fish, write a note on the fridge
for you to find in the morning.
All I can manage are
the heaviest words I’ve ever scribbled—
I’m afraid all the plants are dying.
Katie Budris holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. Currently an instructor at Rowan University and Community College of Philadelphia, she serves as Editor in Chief of Glassworks Magazine. Her poems have appeared in over a dozen journals, most recently Border Crossing, Outside In, Temenos, and the anthology Crossing Lines (Main Street Rag). Her debut chapbook, Prague in Synthetics, is now available from Finishing Line Press. See more of her work at: katiebudris.com