Roses and Rainwater

An old woman lays peacefully among

Roses in her garden.

She lays, eyes closed, with a crumpled

Piece of parchment

Between her fingers. The garden holds

So many memories.

Memories of lemonade on porch swings,

Of tending to flowers

Under sunlight. The echo of young

Children laughing

Carries on the breeze, the cobblestone

Path etched with

Their small footprints. But older

memories too float

Within the garden. A young love reached

Across the garden's

White fence and found its way inside.

The love grew and

Flourished, twining with the vibrant

Blossoms. It was

A love planted hastily but tended to

And cared for by

The young woman with lilac gloves and

Curls that spilt

Over flower and man alike. Though

Willed by her to

Live, the very same love wilted within

The haven of the

Garden and died with the old woman.

The gardener's story

Rests upon her chest where her lilac

Gloves hold it close.

It was when the world seemed a paradox.

Young boys were

Coming home in coffins and yet, among

The death, the

Gardener's roses were unfolding. She

Knelt in front of

The flowers and softly patted the soil

Beneath them.

She grasped their stems between two

Fingers and gently

Pulled them to her nose. Her eyes closed,

She could smell

The living breath of the velvet roses.

It was a smell

That took her far from everything.

Twenty-one gun

Salute and she walked slowly to a patch

Of yellow roses,

Plucked one up. She went to the picket

Fence, put the

Flower to her lips, and wove its stem

Into the pickets.

Three yellow roses then lay on the fence,

Little blessings for

The dead and forever gone. And they

Blew gently in the

Wind until a young soldier cupped the

Petals of one and offered

It to the gardener. "I will soon be gone,"

He told her and

Asked for her promise to keep the roses

Alive. So she

Lived to nurture the flowers long after

He died. And

When the time came for her to join him,

A deep purple

Dahlia grew, mysteriously, and laced its

Stem with that

Of a particularly bright golden rose. And

The two flowers

Stretched and caught the light even though

Those who inspired

The blossoms had long since been buried in

Soil that would come

To breathe air into seeds and smell sweetly of

Roses and rainwater.