The rambling rose can only go so far, strung out
between pre-fab columns, flaking white.
Whatever domesticity this rose was meant
to symbolize has long since taken flight
while the rose remains
grounded, a thin-limned semaphore,
meaning flagged. One black-spot bloom
hangs slack — a lip split before the bell.
This rose is sick —
yet it lives. Which is more than you can say.
No one wants to think it ends this way —
motor cortex sputtered out against
the hollow vinyl door of a grayed tract ranch
partially clad in cement fiberboard, lawn
threaded through with nimblewill, forget-me-
not, spiderwort. We all prefer
the fairytale — Rose-Red in her lace cap
peacefully unfurled beside the hearth, against
the sleeping bear, unmauled. In that world,
beauty never fails to break a fall. But here —
Miss Ohio — grass is all
that will become you.
1 Emily Dickinson, “333: The Grass so little has to do—,”
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little, Brown, and
Co., ed. Thomas H. Johnson, 1960) 157-158