I used to think a tourniquet was a kind of flower. I was sure I’d heard my mother say she planted rows of them when I was younger: bulbous yellow things, unburdened by petals, slick with dew, shining like sugar in the frost of a March fog. It wasn’t until I’d gone to nursing school in my mid-twenties, one of those fresh starts, that I learned a tourniquet is a compression tool, a vice for flesh, a thing that says I am holding you together. I don’t remember which flowers I’d mismatched, improperly bouqueted out of their meanings. Years later, on the drive home from a shift cleaning knife wounds and wrapping burnt hands in gauze, I’d stop at a farmer’s market, poring over flowers, remembering. Azalea, a woman told her daughter, pointing to a red-pink haze. Chrysanthemum.

Peter Kispert's writing has appeared in Colorado Review, The Baltimore Review, Slice Magazine, and other journals. He is a reader for Electric Literature's Recommended Reading and a fiction fellow in Indiana University's MFA program. For more, visit