Sestina for My Grandfather

Julia bohm

who grew flowers
out of a vase with only water and no dirt, so tall they almost
touched the ceiling fan. Almost used their crude
height to behead
themselves. The stove in the kitchen is never flaming;
perhaps this is an act of revenge.

Grandpa built an apartment out of spite. On the kitchen counter he laid a plot for revenge,
right next to the flowers,
and never followed through. His old, flaming
streets are almost
gone now. His father was beheaded
with such a crude

weapon that no one had the gall to upturn his nose, and crudely
walk away. Revenge
has it’s heart in beheaded
things, waters the flowers
and then pours its almost
body back into the ocean. The flame-

less stove is quiet. My grandfather is quiet. The streets are flaming,
and his father is stuck on a train going west. The crude
and yellow star pinned to him like a flower. My grandfather built a life full of almosts,
his almost-revenge
ringing then gone. You can grow as many flowers
as you’d like so long as you behead

desire. What good is a beheading
if there’s no one around to watch? The once-flaming
camps have nothing but flowers
growing crude
and ugly from the black ground. Play your cards right and revenge
will cool like a pie on the windowsill until the neighborhood kids steal it, and you’re left with an almost-

cold oven. In some lives, almost
is all you get. All you get is a beheaded
body, bleeding onto the ground so profusely that revenge
is the only thing that is still flaming.
Desire, the only thing still crude.
Play your cards right and you’ll have no dirt left for flowers.

My grandfather built an apartment out of flowers,
each one was almost beheaded with a crude
and rusty axe, and all of it was done out of revenge. His body, the only thing left flaming.


JULIA BOHM is the 2017 winner of Interlochen's Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship. Her work can be found in Public Pool Magazine and Drunk in a Midnight Choir. A resident of Ann Arbor, MI, Julia will attend Interlochen Arts Academy in the fall.