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.