In a rose garden
With blinding billowing sunlight
Some roses bloom early
Some bloom late
And some not at all.
I sit in the court yard
Of the holding place where people shrivel and die
Their souls rotting within their limp, useless bodies
Waiting to be released while their prisons like
Helpless plants that are carefully fed and watered
In the hope that somehow they are happy
As happy as they once were when
They drove muscle cars and cooked for their children
Calling the tykes in from yard covered in mud
With the not much cleaner dog dashing after
Distributing hugs and smiles.
But ahhh, death is a dirty and profitable business.
My grandmother looks at me,
She has barely spoken for months
Ignorant of the world around her
Mimicking the thinker with not much more progress than he.
A fragmenting figment of her once troublesome and loving self.
My grandmother’s eyes lock with mine
And something seems to click like gear cogs finally finding their home.
Her crinkled face crinkling even further with warmth.
From her wheel chair she reaches out
with her crusty withered hand
she touches my face, gently.
“You are a rose.”
She shakes her head with pleasure and conviction
As if she had just discovered something she had been looking for
As if she had found the cure for cancer
Her head bobbing happily
Her smile stretching wide
Laughter in her voice she looks at my mother sitting next to me.
“That is a rose”
Pointing and giggling at me
Declaring victory and sighing.
She retreats back into herself content with all the world
Ready to stupidly slurp her slop that we feed her by hand
Never to reappear from her reverie.
My grandmother sleeps now in the deep dark earth
Feeding the ground underneath the roses
Next to the husband she loved most in death.
I think on her from time to time
Battling an intrepid war
Against my own despair
Dipping, drowning, bobbing in a sickly black ocean
My grandmother’s granddaughter in all her neurotic loveliness
But in my darkest hour
When shame and self-doubt pierces my soul like a knife
Looking to my own uncertain future
A wave of wrenching gratitude assails me
Ripping out of me in aggressive tears
Purging years of depression and self-hate
As I begin to see my blessings
Her demented dumb face comes to mind
Smiling at me, “You are a rose.”
In all her life she knew me not despite our proximity
But when she knew not at all
She knew me best
With all her love behind me
Her lovely late blooming flower
I am a rose.