when frost comes early to a widow’s garden

 worrying about her roses
         the old woman glanced
         through window panes.
 she wrung her hands, wrought
 with frantic agitation. such beautiful
 blooms took time and tender

 she stood feebly upon her frail
 legs, twisted like dogwood. hobbling,
 wheezing, she trudged
 across her floor like swamp moss.
 a pot of coffee and the baking
 scent of thyme (in cookies that would go stale
 with no grandchildren to eat them)
 filled her home, mingling
 with dust, doilies, chipped porcelain roses,
 and sun-aged curtains.

 her withered fingers strolled
 through the yellowed pages
 of a family album she had saved
 from a burial of dust. children,
 like porcelain roses,
 she ruminated, shatter easily.

 the family photos, hanging
 on the walls like forgotten vines were faded,
 transparent ghosts. sun
 and memory had over-exposed
 the images; they lost
 character and form, the edges
 were the tattered sails
 of a phantom ship.

 stooped over, a bent Atlas, she shuffled
 to her coffee. again, glancing
 to the outside, clouded by the boundary
 of her vision and the counterpane of dust,
 she let tears fall.

 and the old woman said,
         “It’s an early frost
         which kills the roses.”
 as the soft, wilted
 petals fell to the wind.