I wrote this poem a few years ago. Recently I have been going through some old photographs of flowers and thinking about the beauty locked away in these digital files. I am also feeling a deep sadness for the loss of my brother, also a few years ago. There is a lot of joy lost in his box of ashes, joy the world could surely use…
I don’t recall why,
but we tried everything
we could think of to kill that old rose bush.
It might have been fifty years old,
or a hundred, or ten
it really didn’t matter,
for some reason the roses had to go.
So it was hacked down to a blunt knot
barely an inch above ground.
Before summer could close its books
there were little green tits of rose springing
at every angle from the lopped stump.
So we chopped it again, below ground
this time, covered it and left no trace.
…crocuses, tulips, buds on trees,
and little green tits of rose.
My father laughed and suggested
napalm, a very 70′s solution.
So we got lighter fluid, matches,
and created our own Apocalypse Now;
less than a stump, charred to a cinder,
splintered to ash and buried again.
…leaves clogging gutters,
dormant grass going brown,
again little green tits of rose.
So we attacked its roots
with spades and flashing ax.
Digging deep and slashing at
the waxy tendrils that fed this beast.
And when a year had past without green tits
we marked the spot with sod.
We sold that house after our parents died.
Having scattered to lives of our own
none of us had the will to keep it in the family line.
Decades passed and returning home became
a funereal affair. The last was to bury one of
my own. Having buried parents, siblings and
friends from youth could not, did not prepare me
for the sight of my child’s casket lowered into
the grave, handfuls of dirt tossed in after.
I watch as roses are laid at the graveside
or dropped in that deep arid hole.
And looking at the rose in my own hand
I begin to understand fathomless remorse,
for my child buried,
and the beauty I have kept from this world.
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