Fall 2019 / Poetry 2019 / Volume 50

REVENGE By: Toti O’Brien

The year when I sold the property I thought 

I’d let the wisteria grow wild.

I would let her take her revenge 

after so many years.


I recalled when she was cut. A stump

a maimed nothing

after having shaded so abundantly 

the veranda outside the main bedroom

having made luscious love 

to pinkish brick walls

fingering them all the way up

—green caress, purple sighs—

in the evenings, at dawn, glass in hand

spilled wine and dew drops

loose nightgowns, murmurs, laughter and shush

deep breaths, candlelight, china

half cigar and a lost bobby pin

pillow fallen on terracotta, sweet dreams.

Lavish, selfless, naked love

she was cut to a stump.

Her roots, the architect said, hug foundations 

too tight, too enthusiastically

her affection unbridled.


She should take her revenge, I thought

centuries later and hemispheres away

when I put the property on sale. 

Wasn’t this another plant? Not sure.

She bore the same name 

as the one I had previously known

and she looked the same.

She must be at least a kin 

and so I let her spill, Amazonian. 

Leafy branches poured down 

to kiss the concrete—dark green pillars.

Tendrils launched themselves into the void 

like ropes reaching for distant windows

across a wide driveway. 

Tendrils went amok, dared the impossible

groping at every square inch 

of un-inhabited atmosphere

curling free-style like figure skaters 

inebriated with grace

pirouetting like acrobats on a quest 

for absolute infinity. 


I let the wisteria grow tangled 

and tangling, baroque

arabesque, romantic and decadent.

Primitive and naïf. Redundant. Ridiculous.

Branches lashing at me 

as I timidly reached my car 

then carefully backed up 

under a drone of dominant greenery

gently yet insistently clawing 

at metal or skin with nails eager 

to leave a sappy indelible mark 

bite of boundless nature, let me.

Let me. Live.

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