Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

This morning I frittered two
hours and forty-seven minutes
in the garden, pulling weeds and
deadheading flowers.

In the afternoon I
exfoliated, using homemade
bath salts stored in
a Vlasic pickle jar.
Spent epithelial cells sloughed
from my body, swirled
down the drain.

The summer I was
thirteen, our next-door neighbor
watched us, hands cupped around
her eyes, over
the redwood fence.
(We pretended we didn’t see her).

By the time school started,
she was dead of a brain tumor.

© Victoria Slotto 2008

Linked to dVerse Poetics where the theme offered by Kelvin S-M is poetry that happens in the bathroom. There should be some fun things happening here to day.

Process Note: There are obscure references to numerology in this. In the Tarot the Death Card is Number 13. All of the numbers in the poem relate to this.

27 thoughts on “Denial

  1. Baishali says:

    a sad ending … the truth of life … beautiful write …


  2. clawfish says:

    I love the way you turn all the words into such a fascinating interplay , a great write and thank you


  3. Despite reading your process note this poem has the look (to me) of something that should not work but does. That incongruity has lodged in my mind since I read it and won’t let go. But there’s so much to admire about this poem: words like “deadheading”, the play between sloughing and saving or preserving, transparent and opaque, collecting (cupping, bottling) and letting go, looking and glazing, and the final incongruity – the end couplet – just as some form of consciousness begins a death has bluntly occurred. I wish I had written this brilliant poem.


  4. kaykuala says:

    Nosy neighbors are amusing! They go through lots of fun ways for some cheap thrills. Just let them be! Nicely Victoria!



  5. zongrik says:

    going back to your synesthesia, what if you exfoliated the garden and harvested your skin? weird thought. good peom

    high tech toilet power


  6. De Jackson says:

    Goodness. Ending unexpected. Well done.


  7. Mama Zen says:

    Excellent. Not a wasted word.


  8. I guess you never know…in life and in poetry!


  9. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …that must have been a bad karma moving after her for eyeing furtively… but. then death is such a playful thing you can’t just take for granted… very intringuing Victoria.. why she does what she does… smiles… that’s a quite powerful li’l piece that def pulls out curiosity…


  10. David King says:

    As the man said, “That’s life!” Complacency gets its due deserts.


  11. Akila says:

    oh yes we do have such fleeting moments pass by in least unexpected time and place but they do so, perhaps, like a lesson. The ending was very powerful. How we tend to be insensitive sometimes?!


  12. punnypalaver says:

    I like the way this moves from types of care taking to the jolt at the end–death is out of our control despite our best care taking. detail of the pickle jar was great!


  13. Truedessa says:

    Wow, I have to agree with the others I did not see that ending coming..took me by surprise.


  14. LaTonya says:

    Death is always unexpected even when we know. It has been for me. Reading you this weekend has been wonderful. Than you.


  15. What can I say? So many vivid images.


  16. Rowan Taw says:

    I really appreciated this as a Momento Mori, and then read your process notes, which adds a further complex dimension.


  17. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Jesus, this piece has it all, Victoria, cleanliness = godliness, hands in the earth, matriarchal connection, and a peek at the harshness of our own mortality; only our poetry protects us!


  18. Mary says:

    Oh, Victoria, that ending really struck a chord. One never knows when something like a brain tumor will strike a person, and one only thinks back on memories such as this one after they are gone. A powerhouse poem here, leaving me speechless.


  19. ManicDdaily says:

    PS – I love th eunexpectedness of this by the way. k.


  20. ManicDdaily says:

    Very grim, but well done. Ugh. How things go. k.


  21. Laurie Kolp says:

    Oh, my… I wasn’t expecting that ending, Victoria. So powerful!


  22. I loved this – from the beginning in the garden to the sloughed cells to the unexpected ending – really wonderful – K


  23. cloudfactor5 says:

    That ending is most unexpected and definitely catches one by surprise. Otherwise exfoliating and bath salts sounds comforting !


  24. Grace says:

    I too didn’t expect the ending, how sad ~

    I specially enjoyed the opening verses like “deadheading flowers”. Enjoyed the visit Victoria ~


  25. a really shocking end, and how differently we look on people after disaster strikes…


  26. brian miller says:

    dang…that took a wicked turn there in the end….you caught me smiling t the boy peeking over the fence…cool memory…than into the shadow of the tumor….

    it does feel good to let go a few skin cells after hot work….nice simple title that puts it all in perspective…


  27. claudia says:

    oh heck victoria…i didn’t expect it to go in such a direction…shock..and what a shock it must have been for you and the other kids as well..ugh.. there were times when i didn’t want to see specific people as well but it’s so tough to never get a second chance to do things right again..


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