pothos & poncho

By R. Aaron Flores



I guess I stopped watering the pothos,

Which lives on top the bookcase

Reserved for all keepsakes other than books,

Since my best guess was I’d be leaving soon


And I guess overall I'm testing

If it will become

More drought-tolerant

Through this behavior


When its roots can only dig

So much deeper

In search of moisture

In an unpromising pot


Or if that’s just what I have to tell myself

To keep some space between us both

To make it easier to say goodbye


On one side it has a living vine

Trailing just past the bottom of the very top shelf

On the other side it has a browned spirit

Vestige which even dead and desiccated

Reaches so much deeper into my storage

Almost to the top of my most useless bottom shelf

Where nothing is memento

Just old ideas I can’t get rid of

And that’s what I have to worry about at home


In the fields, I feel more self-assured

Having internalized that every day

We must walk along the strawberry in the rows

To make sure no ready and willing fruit

Quivers to a pill bug’s tummy before ours


It’d be enough to make me sick

Because I’ve seen it happen before


So now before I leave for the cottage

I check on both rows like a good boy

And like how Travis said we should

Which I trust, because I know he’s a good boy too


The only part I don’t like

Truthfully

Is when the plants make me think of you


Truthfully it's tempting to say

I selected my seeds just for you


The soil seemed right

And the way I assumed they’d grow

Made them seem like the perfect companions


If only it were that easy

And if only I’d really been willing

To dig into the dirt beforehand


You didn't really do anything

To make me so scared of the

Timing of it all


You just stay your best dressed and

Put me in nothing but a poncho

And send me to the fields with a vague

Promise to help pat me dry when I return

No matter what I’ve managed to harvest


Perhaps the uncertainty is what

Makes me so afraid to stay wet

Which I project onto my poor, poor pothos


As you know, it’s not flowing water

Which frightens me

Just water when it's falling

On & over & around my head


And it feels like frustration when it's really

Fear of the unknown

And either way it doesn't serve me


I love streams so much that I once

Paid to sit by a channel

Just to watch you dance

Your only fan

Which, if not true,

Makes me at least

Your biggest fan

Remaining true

In some way

To this day


True you

True to you

I miss you so much, my friend


I wish I didn’t have to,

But I do


I get anxious wondering if my babies

Will end up knowing your name

But that has nothing to do with

My current work order


So it’s back to work, and

I don't know how other

Hardworking boys in Texas do it

I just know how you did

And how I'm doing now


So I transpire a little water

On the pothos

Every now and then

Until it's certain that I'll be gone

For any substantial length of time


For now, it's me and plants

In the season for wildflowers

All stretching toward the sky


And rooting deeper into the earth

Learning what we can about the water

And understanding more about our soil


To be able to better comprehend

The next time I say, I love you




R. Aaron Flores is a writer of poetry, essays, and fiction and a communications professional based in both Houston, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.


Aaron's writing typically centers around the queer Brown experience in various forms and often integrates his extensive time in nature. His professional communications engagements are all social impact-focused with an emphasis in agriculture, policy and political representation, health access, and urban land.


For his work in local policy, he has been appointed to several advisory committees for the City of Houston. As a volunteer and advocate, Aaron gave the TEDx talk, “Building Authentic Community by Seeing Your Neighbors” on localism and the built environment, he was featured on the University of Chicago Public Policy Podcast for his work after Hurricane Harvey, and he was a founding member of the Houston Women’s March.


Aaron, who answers to several other names (aflo, raf, renay, and more) depending on your preference in the absence of his own, plays outside a lot, often trail running, paddling, hiking, swimming, and more. As a writer and thinker, he is ultimately interested in reconciling the primal aspects of our human nature with our relatively recent existence as urban, public animals. You can follow him on Instagram or on his homepage.