WORK IN PROGRESS: Camellias (Version 1)

NOTA BENE: I’ve resisted the urge to post this. I’ve resisted the urge to share any of my work lately because I don’t know how to give it context, I’m not sure what the point is or if anyone cares. But for now, I care. I care about doing the work. I care about documenting the process and about the progress. So I’ll post the versions of pieces as they evolve and let you guys in on how I work through them. PROCESS NOTES AT THE END OF THE PIECE.



I want to talk about the red camellias. I want to talk about how, when they are soaked with rain, they look like fruit and I want to bite them. I imagine the juice is bitter and cold. The yellow pollen is gritty and gets stuck between my teeth. Someone calls the cops on me because I am in their yard in the rain, eating camellias from the bush that was planted in soil mixed with the ashes of their grandmother.

I feel like I have never been given the same freedom to fuck up that other people have. My mistakes are always just the right size to only negatively impact myself and only for a few weeks at a time. I was raised too well. I am too aware of others. I am not the type of woman that can be loved unconditionally. I have to be good.

Camellias should be edible. I thought all flowers were when I was young, because honeysuckle was sweet and sticky on the end. I remember eating jasmine and the crumbling innards of a stick that looked like cinnamon and gnawing the tart stem of a weed, shaped like a Y and fuzzy on the ends. Weeds don’t grow around here like they used to and you are not supposed to bother other people’s camellias.

When I was a girl, my mind was vast and quick and it stayed busy with love stories that I thought were plans for the future. I was so exquisitely bored that I tried to make my life into multiple lives at once and I think about the way my chest would burst into bloom when a boy would respond to my fairytales, as if their participation meant I had somehow succeeded in splitting my life into multiples.

A mouthful of other people’s camellias would taste better if my toes were sunk into the mud. I could never eat a dry camellia or a pink camellia and I could never eat a red camellia on a sunny day, even if it was cold.

I think about how I want to live with you and how you could push me up against the kitchen counter and fuck me whenever we felt like it and how no matter bad the bad days get for us, I always want you to fuck me. I wonder if that is because I can’t think of a way to get closer to you or to accept you more. Bringing you inside my body is all I can do.

If I accept writing as my life and stay home to do it, will you let me plant a camellia bush to eat from and will you leave a muddy patch in the yard for my toes and if you come home one day to find me with yellow pollen in my teeth, will you still love me?

I’ve never had a reason to fuck up big time. I have only done it bit by bit, so no one else will notice unless I tell them about it. When things get really bad, my mind gets vast and quick again, I wonder who could love me enough to plant things with me or make plans with me or fuck me in the kitchen, even on bad days, like this one.

I know bad days will pass and I know, in the end, it will be you.


I wrote this piece a couple of days before the person I thought the piece was about broke up with me via text message. I guess you could call it a swan song. When I reread it now, tinker with edits and play with word choices, I can see where that original person fades and this becomes some kind of open letter to the person that will still love me with pollen in my teeth. 

This first version has one round of printed, analog edits and one round of reread, on-screen edits. I mostly tweaked where my word choice diverged from my vision of the piece. The tone fluctuates  from internal dialogue to external conversation and in some places I faltered, had to clean it up. I’d like to eventually expand this piece and make the visions more cohesive/robust.