Close your eyes, and imagine them – the breathing roses.
The garden of women in your life:
colorful, fragrant, sturdy,
rooted in the dirt, bearing thorns that can draw blood,
most with black spots of their own.
The one who cradled you as a babe, overjoyed and equally terrified to love something so much.
The one who forgave you when you hated yourself the most, when you were weak and selfish and had lost your way.
And the one you forgave for doing the same.
The ones you felt, across time and space, as you birthed your babies – centuries of powerful women who have borne that exact pain, for that exact love.
The one you watch across a room, and know she has been badly hurt because you see it in the way she holds herself, and you remember when you once held yourself that way.
The ones who understand the exquisite joy of watching your children run and twirl and laugh out loud, and the crushing pain you feel when they suffer.
The ones who push you into your darkness, ultimately leaving you stronger for having clawed your way back to the light.
The one who is still shaken by your beauty and strength, even when your hair has fallen out and you are frail and skinny and barely grasping a grey, wisp-thin thread of hope.
The one who doesn’t even know she needs you, as she looks up from her nursing baby, tired beyond description, and meets your eyes. You know her fatigue in your cells, and she drinks your gaze even as she looks away, because she felt you love her.
The ones who held you up when grief ripped through your body at your mother’s grave.
These are the women who stand behind you, lift your chin, make you look yourself in the mirror and believe again.
The ones who dance with you in the wild of night, and force you
to breathe the roses.