After her breakup, my roommate bought an aloe vera
and placed it on the windowsill. She used to step into
the sun and spread her arms to the wildness and
the mountains, but now she rids herself of collisions,

nurturing her succulent life each day instead. Vera
means true, but the promise of healing in its leaves
that people have held onto for centuries has not
ever been scientifically proven. Rather, toxins lie

in the layer closest to the plant’s skin. It’s no wonder
we suffer when we place our hope in anything,
when we, too, are flesh and moisture, born
to break and die.

Only nineteen percent of Kamikaze pilots
in World War II hit the targets they aimed for,
and only half of marriages make it, and an even
smaller percent of relationships ends in marriage

at all—we are surrounded by darkness. What
I mean to say is this: when the fair and my fiancé
came to East Texas, Evans United Shows assembled
a kind of bombastic brilliance of bright lights

and temporary thrills, but I remembered my childhood fear
of the dark. On that ride, the Kamikaze: a pendulum
of people locked in cages to be swung to the top, to float
upside down for seconds, I couldn’t bring myself to reach

out and take his waiting hand. I thought of those pilots,
explosion and collision, assemble and disassemble
of their families and the rides and my future
as a military wife. Yet our feet came back to the ground,

and he gathered me in his arms and forgave,
just like my roommate did as she sat
in the sunlight, watching her succulent,
letting, somehow, the aloe heal her.

Lauren Elaine Jeter is an alumna of the Creative Writing program at Stephen F. Austin State University. She was featured in the 10th Anniversary Issue of The Blue Route, and her poetry has appeared in Gravel, Thin Air, The Cape Rock, and elsewhere. She reads for Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and was most recently named a semifinalist for the 2020 Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize. She lives on Camp Pendleton, beside the ocean, with her husband and chocolate lab.