Written December 11, 2016
I saw the roses from the kitchen window
on one of the last days before school end.
It had been sunny the last fortnight
and shorts were the norm.
I was glad to leave my jacket behind
before leaving for the bus
on the last early mornings.
The roses grew tall against the white trellis.
Their height secured against the boards.
Poles and wire twisted around stems,
keeping them upright.
Even with last month’s rain that weighted them down,
bowed heads with their petals loosening.
white or pink, red or peach on the stalk,
the petals would fall and cover the soil.
When the skies cleared I picked up a petal,
held it against my face to feel the softness.
Rubbed it between fingers and watched it thin.
On a shelf in the living room bureau,
Mom kept rose bowls behind the cabinet door,
along with wedding presents from 1963:
big silver serving spoons for special occasions.
Felt lined cupboard drawers smelled like honey
from dried flower arrangements shoved to the back.
We would choose a rose that was not open too far.
Set in just enough water for the stem to sit in.
Putting my face over the bowl and breathing in
the roses smelt like sweet tea.
We were teenagers then and that week
my sister had her wisdom teeth out.
Her room was in the basement then
(I was too scared to live down there).
She would walk up the stairs slowly
holding the railing, swollen faced and
woozy from the painkillers they had her on.
It was shortly after, when I was
sitting at the kitchen table
looking out across the lawn, at the roses
and the grey sea beyond
that she sat in the chair beside me,
closest to the window and leaned with her
elbows on the table.
I was glad to see she was up,
but then I noticed she started to move sideways,
her eyes were closed and she was falling.
She was fainting and I was calling for Mom.
I didn’t want her to fall and
I had to reach out and catch her shoulder
without pulling her long brown hair.
by Wendy Stewart