I’ll Blossom For You

This poem won First place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2022

Put another way, if our childhood experiences are contained
within the “vessels” of memory, however do we reach adulthood?

—Danielle Bartlette, “Mnemonic strategies from a 1970s Prairie Childhood”

Deep in Saskatchewan there is a wax museum
filled with discount versions of Carly Rae Jepsen

and some of them are quite good, actually: her spine
supple, her cheeks peachy-but-not-too-peachy,

the slink of her dresses blooming in hyacinth,
smaragdine, hot-iron red, Saskatoon sunset caught

against the broadside of a barn. Why, she looks as if
she could cross the room at any moment, face tidy

as a mnemonic, because what is music if not math
that fucked a mnemonic, and then lodged itself

in the throat of Carly Rae Jepsen? Even now, the strains
of No Drug Like Me are wafting through this old barn

insistent as the scent of burnt toast: you say you love me
but you wouldn’t dare. Carly, how I loved you:

noctambulant with it, driven to distraction with it,
pushed through mountain, flame, and bog by it

until I landed in this barn of melting doppelgangers,
peering into each face as though it holds the answer

to memory, to self, to my own queerness. What secrets
do you hold, Carly Rae? I hiss into one waxen ear.

Carly, as expected, has no answer. If you make me
open up, I’ll tell only the truth, my prerecorded Carly croons,

but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, nothing
I choose to still believe. Answers must lie elsewhere.

I shut the door behind me, softly, all her doe eyes
shining in the dark. All for you, Carly calls sadly after me

in the words she wishes I could say to myself. If you
make me feel in love then I’ll blossom for you.