Basil Flowers

Written by Callan Latham

Dad sends me outside to cut the tops off the basil. 
We must avoid their pollination, so we kill 
the flowers. I kneel to the ground, still wet 

with the frosted dew of spider webs. My feet, 
inches from the stems. My fingers, reaching, 
pinching off the beauty. I watch the blooms fall, 

tiny heads separated from their unknowing body. 
And so they collect at my feet, bloodless 
and too fresh to be dead. My hands smell 

like home now, a sharpness that reminds me 
why everything always comes back to how it was. 
We replant the basil each year, cut off the flowers, 

then the leaves, feeding ourselves on the killing, 
on the collection of what we have given, 
of what we must now take.