The Grass So Little Has To Do 1

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

BT Shaw

About BT Shaw

In late 2012, B.T. Shaw moved from Portland, Oregon, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she’s finishing a second poetry collection with the support of a fellowship in literature from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared online and in print in journals such as FIELD, Tin House, and AGNI. Her first book, This Dirty Little Heart (Eastern Washington University Press), won the 2007 Blue Lynx Poetry Prize and, thanks to Carnegie-Mellon University Press, is not quite out of print. More at
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