steep your sorrows in lavender.
strain the buds that float in the lilac liquid
and watch the sadness that your body expels flow
through the fine mesh.
hold yourself at night because no one else will.
your eyes grow heavy with the color of chamomile
like a children’s singsong love poem.
but you are no longer a child.
grown too soon,
shoving yourself against the mountainside.
your dry, pink skin flakes off
as you leave pieces of yourself
across the piedmont
where you raised yourself.
you grew out of the fig seeds
that fell into the backyard
before the tree was even planted.
you watered yourself,
steeped in tubs,
so you could feel something.
you reached out
and i was not there
and my lungs filled with table salt,
drowning on my own.
you woke up with pruned fingers
because i had stayed in the water all night.
the clock on your bedroom wall
smells like lemons
and the dried petals that you pressed
into your journal
are scattered all over the house.
the cobwebs have citrus seeds
and the spiders mistake them for flies
because they, too,
you hold your stress in the neck
use the new-fallen snow of your
new home as an ice pack,
take away your pain and your childhood.
playlist after playlist,
lyric tumbling over lyric,
you expel life from your lips.
you try, desperately,
to release your body from
beneath the thumb
that holds your shell.
the sun beats down and melts the snow,
carries you on a wave
of fresh water
from the peaks to my coast.
i hold you
and we wrap our pinkies together;
your stomach growls
and we pick a lemon,
our ankles cracking as we
reach upward, toward the leaves.
the acid curdles
the buttermilk in your tummy,
and you are gone.
farther away again,
you yell out for anyone;
your world is ice
and mine is water;
one element in different stages
and i cannot stand to see you melt.
steep your sorrows in lavender,
pour me a cup.
i don’t like honey,
but i need the bees’ nectar
to sweeten the lies i tell you.
“it gets easier”
“you are not alone”
of course i am here
but we are all alone.
let me feed you honey-soaked lies
for a while longer
until you can make up your own
and wash them down with PBR in your dorm room.
cinder block walls
a pairing for the ages.
your shell sprouts leaves
and seeps citrus oil,
energizing and longing,
and yet you stay in bed.
we will meet in the middle for high holidays
and scream over the radio,
windows ajar despite the weather,
our bodies chapped and so similar but so different.
you will call me in tears,
straining the salt from your body,
and i will feel the salt on my skin
from miles and miles and miles away.
but then our salty sadness
will flavor our dinner,
contrast with the pancakes with m&ms,
melted butter atop carbs for comfort.
our therapists will say
we’re fine, and we will
choke down our pills
with milk, ice floating in the glass.
on the morning of your first class,
your coffee will go cold
and you will text me
“evian spelled backwards is naïve.”
Leandra Lee is a prose and poetry writer based out of North Carolina, USA. She spends Sundays trying not to spiral into existential dread, and lives with her cat-- binx--, fish-- Mulaney--, and bearded dragon-- Cheeto--. This is her third publication. Twitter: @DiscountDelRey