JA S P E R RE A D S
Preparation In the kitchen, we bundle roses in groups of ten, crimson petals soft like skin. “Watch the thorns,” my grandmother says, snapping off the prickly green and red-tipped spines one at a time. My sister holds a bouquet to her nose, closes her eyes. Nestled in the crook of the counter, my aunt cuts the ends of stems and cackles like my grandmother and mother. We have many more bouquets to make that day before that night when my sister takes another name. But now, I watch her smell the sweet bells of fragrance, perfume of the night to come. She opens her eyes. I look at the roses cupped in my hands, watch my sister’s fingers wrap wire around my own cut, thornless stems.
Alexis Stratton is a native of Illinois but has spent her life in many homes, from New Orleans to South Korea. She’s currently enrolled in USC’s MFA in Creative Writing program, and her work has most recently appeared in Breakwater Review, Earth’s Daughters, Two Hawks Quarterly, and The Drum Literary Magazine.