Susan L. Lin


We left first grade with a packet
of tiny seeds to plant in our backyards
and what sprouted from the soil became a giant
Sunflower that kept on growing until it was even
taller than me. See this photo of me pointing
at its bright yellow petals, a smile on my face knowing
I was the one who watered the earth every week
so that its reach
could rival mine.

But in that same family album
no snapshot captured the look on my face
when I outlived that plant, when I kept thriving
in the years that followed, but my baby didn’t.
No snapshot captured the countless moments in time
when stories I thought I knew the ending to
still managed to surprise me with twists and turns,
when I learned
vital life lessons.

Interrupted dreams came next,
the confusion of being pulled from bed
to pose bleary-eyed beside a flower called
Queen of the Night, but I only ever knew her
by her Mandarin name. See this photo of the potted plant
with slender white petals caressing my sleepy face?
The next day my mom chopped its wilted head off
at the stem and
called it dinner.

We left childhood with the knowledge
of how a short life doesn’t need to be
the one we regret forever.

We leave adulthood with the knowledge
of how it feels to bloom once after dark
before closing up forever.