Garden Tomb Roses

This poem by Christina Jones won first place in our LittWorld 2018 writing contest. Judges commented, “This piece has a strong spiritual, emotional and intellectual impact, and is very creative and well-structured. It deals with a deep emotional problem that many readers can identify with. A fresh view on God’s life-changing, resurrection power.”

Participants were invited to submit an original piece of writing that helps readers see the truth or power of one Scripture verse or passage in a fresh way. We received more than 152 submissions from 91 writers in at least 22 countries.

Garden Tomb Roses
by Christina Jones

My mother is
roses she wallpapered on our living room walls
and planted, 50 bushes strong, in our yard.

With her petal-pink lips and leaf-yellow hair,
pulled out in an 80s wingspan behind her ears,
I am nine, and she is the most beautiful thing in the world.

But, “I’m not,” she says into the bathroom mirror we share,
and these thorns of hers draw beads of our blood
from my fingertips hissing, “you are not.”

Her fingernails are blunt and torn from
living room walls where she
smoothed the wallpaper
and the rocky ground where she
planted the bushes.

I am nineteen and I believe her.

My mother is
taking down the wallpaper now because
it is out of style and
she is tearing up the rose bushes because
they are too hard to care for.

Her fingers crack and bleed with
and I run away.

I am 29 and I come home to
evergreen trees in the yard and
pale paint on the living room walls.

My mother is
a little girl with soft hair and pale lips
in front of the bathroom mirror.

She looks at me.
In our reflection her eyes are moss-colored,
like the roots of her rose bushes torn up.

She lets me hold her small hands and,
Her heart is in ten pieces stuck in them.

we peel down and uproot
her drunken father’s face,
his hidden, vile mouth that broke her,
from the face of the God she gave me.

He is
the gardener outside the tomb.
And He says to her
wilting leaves and bruised petals,
with a voice that is rain falling and third-day sun shining,
“I am,” and, “you are.”

This is the most beautiful thing in the world
And I believe him.

(John 20:11-16)

Christina Jones lives in Spokane, Washington, US, where she works for a nonprofit preparing for and responding to natural disasters. Her tendency toward tardiness combined with her background in international relief work have helped her develop significant skills in navigating crowded airports at a sprint.When not running through airports, Christina enjoys creative writing, audio books, Latin dancing, solitary evening jogs, old buildings, too much ice cream and long conversations with good friends. Read more of her writing online.

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