Kimberly Ann Priest


Springtime in the Garden of Agony


Imagine I am petting the soft head of a white peony,
full bloom, first cutting—holding it

in the hollowed out crook of my arm, like an unbroken
egg, afraid of its yolk—the small chance

that it might leak inside the membrane,
and as soon as I open the shell, its once whole soul

will spill out onto the floor. And I,
in my hurried foolishness, quickly cleaning the mess,

rinsing it into a garbage disposal
until its last string of yellow goo is sucked

through the drain’s black rubber teeth,
as I stand over it in horror, shell fragments littering

the countertop like torn petals, all that is left of you—
a sick reminder of me—

while the room grows wild with arms waiting to touch you,
and I want them to touch you,

take you far away from my negligence. It happens
so fast: the hospital gown, the heaving, all your shattered

pieces scattered in my lap, the bed begetting ghosts.
My hands screaming for what’s left.






His fist curled like
an unbloomed crocus
around a tiny bee—
tiny hate—
clinging to its center,
its wings
blaming God
for isolation—
Tongue tongue. Tongue
tongue. It brushes
against his veins,
bruises. Tired
of licking—dust
in the lungs, moist
saffron. He swallows
the bee; I swallow
myself. Both stick
to the throat
of the crocus. She pardons
the pain, blaming
us for misunderstanding;
holding her petals
like bridges
refusing to open.
To breathe.
I panic for breath.
He curls his earlobes,
pants. Burns an army
of wings behind him,
loves the dance.
Enters the crocus
through a petal’s
charred remains,
begins buzzing—does
everything he can
to stop.




Kimberly Ann Priest

Kimberly Priest is the author of White Goat Black Sheep (FLP) and her poetry has appeared in several literary journals including The 3288 Review, Temenos, Storm Cellar, Borderlands: The Texas Poetry Review, The West Texas Literary Review, Windhover, Ruminate Magazine, Relief, RiverSedge and The Berkeley Poetry Review. She is an MFA graduate of New England College, a book reviewer for NewPages, an editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose and an Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University. Her writing explores trauma, sexuality, violence against women, motherhood, and displacement. To read more of her work visit