The Peace Lily

To say the peace lily died / would be an understatement.

A black and white photo of the poet, a young woman, against a background of varying shades of brown.
The Walrus

The peace lily I bought
at Thrifty Foods for $4.99
taught me something
about beauty. When I saw
its poker-green leaves
and flowers, like studded
Jacobsen Egg Chairs,
I rushed it into my cart,
wheeled to the till, carried
it home, and centred it
atop a sunny bookshelf.
Within a week, its leaves
had black spots. A second
week saw its flowers gone.
My mother-in-law said
it needed repotting
and took it—returned it
in a larger pot, trimmed
of rot. Still, it withered.
The internet told me to
shield it from breezes,
to mist it, fertilize it,
and comb for mites. I did
everything, and in return,
it sent out one new flower,
alive as a child’s hand,
which drooped before
ever really blooming.
To say the peace lily died
would be an understatement.
Like a famous connoisseur
of death, it took its time:
every last leaf withered
into a black ash that stuck
on the shelf, and what
remained in the pot
resembled the dregs
of a great forest fire.
I am not someone
who if you smashed all
her mirrors or splattered
her canvases with tar
would suffer very much,
but I admired the lily
and wanted it to thrive.
Yet the more I did for it
the less interested
it seemed in living,
and in the end—tipping it
out into my compost bin—
a bit of me loved
being done with it.

Kayla Czaga
Kayla Czaga is the author of the poetry collections Dunk Tank and For Your Safety Please Hold On.

Like What You’re Reading?

Fact-based journalism is our passion and your right.

We’re asking readers like you to support The Walrus so we can continue to lead the Canadian conversation.

With COVID-19, now more than ever The Walrus’ journalism, fact checking, and online events play a critical role in informing and connecting people. From public health to education to the economy, this pandemic presents an opportunity to change things for the better.

We feature Canadian voices and expertise on stories that travel beyond our shores, and we firmly believe that this reporting can change the world around us. The Walrus covers it all with originality, depth, and thoughtfulness, bringing diverse perspectives to bear on essential conversations while setting the highest bar for fact-checking and rigour.

None of this would be possible without you.

As a nonprofit, we work hard to keep our costs low and our team lean, but this is a model that requires individual support to pay our contributors fairly and maintain the strength of our independent coverage.
Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt.
Every contribution makes a difference.
Support The Walrus today. Thank you.