Permanence / by Denise Duhamel


The barista at the coffee shop is covered in tattoos. She says there are only two ways they hold her back. 1. She can’t work at Starbucks. 2. She can’t wear a corsage, since she’d just be way too busy, and this makes me laugh. She says no to gifts from prom dates–the wrist corsage, the pinned corsage; no to bridal bouquets, the get-well-soon carnations. One day soon her mother will insist on sympathy wreaths around her coffin, which is closed, lest she be confused with the flowers.




About This Poem

“I wrote this poem after hearing Margaret Cho in an interview off-handedly make a joke about her many tattoos–she said that she couldn’t really carry a corsage because she’d clash with it. I laughed, but she also made me think about woman-as-flower, and that led me to the rest.”

–Denise Duhamel



Denise Duhamel is the author of several books of poetry includingBlowout (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). She is also the guest editor of the forthcoming The Best American Poetry 2013 (Scribner). Duhamel teaches at Florida International University.


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