Leila Chatti


Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. The recipient of fellowships from Dickinson House and Quest Writers Conference and awards from Narrative Magazine, Nimrod Journal, the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the Academy of American Poets, her work appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2015, Narrative, The Missouri Review, North American Review, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. www.leilachatti.com


Narcissus Brings Me Flowers

On principle I reject
their company, mute
satin mouths gawping, an insult.

I have had enough of beauty.

Look how selfish they are,
sapping water through slender stems
though they are dead. The impulse remains:

to drain as preservation.
I know you

bring me flowers not of kindness
but of need, to keep me
indebted to pretty things.

I place the vase by the window
of the room I seldom enter.
They bob and shudder against
each other like the drowned.

At every end, a wound.
The wound is what drinks.

The myth of Narcissus has long been oversimplified: a boy is vain, thus he drowns. What is forgotten is that Narcissus was also loved by others. After a man I loved was diagnosed as a narcissist, I returned to the myth in an act of desperation—I needed to understand. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my focus eventually shifted from Narcissus himself to Echo, the voiceless nymph whose love for him destroys her.