A Paradiso in Interaneis Meus

Everything I am is tied to my stomach. I feel everything so intensely; sometimes, I feel the wind get knocked out of me. I am convinced there’s a little girl in my heart pulling the strings from up above. I have this idea that maybe she is just gardening. She planted seeds within the lining of my stomach long ago, and she tends to each plant as needed. Sometimes love needs some work, and others joy will get some attention. I do not like all her plants. She always overwaters fear, my blood running cold as the excess water fills my veins. She plants sadness too often, so handfuls and handfuls of soil collect on top of my gut, and my whole body feels heavy and tired. Sometimes, I just want to rip the flowers out of my throat and watch them wilt in my hands. But, after all this time, these flowers have roots so long I can feel them in the tops of my feet, and ripping them out would rip everything I am out with them.

i. bellis perennis (childhood)

The oldest flower among many is the plot of daisies in the very center of my belly. It seems like the other flowers have piled on top of it, making it hard to see so far back within me. But, on warm spring days when I feel the most connected to the five year old who was just a ball of sunshine and short hair bouncing from place to place with a Snow White doll in tow, I can smell daisies blooming. These days are more rare, but I still try to be her sometimes. I cut eight inches of hair last July just to feel lighter, and maybe it's silly, but I think it worked.


ii. hibiscus rosa-sinensis (beauty)

The little girl in my heart keeps a collection of hibiscuses for rainy days. The bright yellow reminds me of the beauty in small things. As if somehow, in this difficult and scary world, there is still inherent joy. Like the simple beauty of your best friend’s laugh or of watching the sun set above you as you lie in the grass. Lately, it can be hard to see the beauty, which is why she tucks hibiscuses between my ribs on days that the world feels ugly. It makes me remember days spent with my grandparents and the fact that the ocean exists.


iii. hyacinthus (apologies)

I give out apologies like they mean nothing to me. There are so many Hyacinths blooming throughout the day, it's like that little girl bought too many and, not wanting them to go to waste, just throws the seeds up my throat hoping they land somewhere. My fatal flaw is usually that the little girl planting flowers runs out of seeds right when I really mess up. Suddenly, I have nothing except for a meek apology text and a guilty conscience. I add Hyacinth seeds to the grocery list, and she buys too many to make up for lost time.


iv. album lilium (renewal)

I like the idea of clean slates, fresh starts. Of waking up on the first day of spring to a light drizzle after a long, dry winter. Of coming up for air after a long time underwater. I was underwater for most of this past year. I was kicking and flailing, but it felt like my head was being held down. How strange it was to see my own hands when I finally resurfaced. But, I did resurface. The lesson in a year spent drowning is that you will come up for air. After all the tears, the hurt, the anger; I got my clean slate, my fresh start. In February, white lilies bloomed within my heart, even though they were not in season. The garden within my stomach was flooded so badly while I was underwater that it is going to need some recovery time. The lesson in a year spent drowning is that you will need recovery time. So the little girl will start a new garden in the center of my heart, and she will tend to it with care.


Is it selfish to only talk about my side of this?

The little girl in my heart has chin-length hair and straight-cut bangs. She loves flowers, picking them up the way I do bad habits: frequently.

There I go about myself again.

The little girl in my heart wears a Snow White costume every day of the year. She rides her bike into the mailbox and she gets back up, bloody knees stinging and her laugh ringing in the ears of her concerned father.

The little girl in my heart eats cantaloupe sitting in the lap of her grandfather. She swims in the pool like a fish, and leaves in July tanned and pruned from sun and water.

She is five years old and I miss her. She is five years old and I was her. She is five years old and I feel like I lost her.

Is it selfish to lock a younger version of yourself in your heart, forcing her to tend to your memories and emotions like shrubbery?




This poem is about: 


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741