My mother tells her sister you have your husband and I have my flowers by Vasiliki Albedo
In this quietly devastating poem, Vasiliki Albedo effortlessly crafts a narrative of domestic tension, inspired and informed by one of van Gogh’s paintings. Together, Albedo blurs memory and art to deliver a striking, painful portrait of childhood.
My mother tells her sister you have your husband and I have my flowers
After Vincent Van Gogh’s Undergrowth with Two Figures
At the museum a woman is holding on
to her husband next to a blue bark.
Her hat is a halo blurring her
into the background.
Her green dress is muted like my mother’s
laughter, in case it untethers
in the wilderness of our home:
furniture covered in plastic, arguments muzzled.
There shouldn’t be flowers, but there are flowers.
My brother captured a video
on his tenth birthday: my parents in the garden
with their scraps of cake.
Mum is crying, think about the children,
and dad bites, there’s nothing to think about.
My brother’s friends are laughing.
Stay, she says, you can keep your lover.
They sit there with presents and bunting.
And the trees are beside themselves with colour.
Vasiliki Albedo lives in Greece and consults international development organisations combating poverty and climate change. She is the author of Arcadia, winner of Poetry International’s summer 2021 tiny chapbook competition, and ‘Fire in the Oubliette’, joint winner in Live Canon’s pamphlet competition 2020. In 2022 Vasiliki won The Poetry Society’s Stanza competition. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Poetry Review, Poetry London, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Ambit, Magma, Mslexia and elsewhere.