My husband I are empty-nesters, who share a home in Columbia, Maryland with four rescue cats. We are also the proud parents of two sons, one of whom lives in Texas and the other in New York. When not refereeing cats, I spend much of my time making scrapbook and cards and, of course, wriitng poetry. My poems have appeared in Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, and Ekphrastic: writing on art on art and writing.
A Rose a Day
You died in the lap of winter
without warning, leaving him
hunched with grief, his
greying hair the color of
burnt-out charcoal, lonely days
lapsing into sleepless nights, your
scent in every room, lingering like
an old song that echoes in the
ear until you want to scream.
He brought you a rose a day,
laying it on your grave gently,
as if petals would blow away
with the mild breath of ocean air.
He hobbled each sundown
on pebbles to your dirt-covered
home, clutching cane and rose
in one hand, chair in the other,
eyes as stony as the markers
he passed, unfolding his chair
in the peace of prayer, sitting
in his temple of truce with God,
cracking the silence with sobs.
The following spring he joined
you, his last rose rotted and
buried by weeds; now part of
the perennial bloom of your beauty
and infinite fusion of your souls.
sixteen roses at my door,
red as desert sunset, their
bloom delicate like origami
unfolded. i counted each petal,
savored it, like the last drop of sweet
wine, touched each gingerly, as if
it might crack like glass under
the weight of my finger.
who would think of me
on my sixteenth birthday?
what boy liked me but
did not say? i was invisible
in school halls and functions,
at parties and proms, ate lunch
in a classroom; hallmark holidays
rolled by like credits of christmas
specials where i felt welcome
in a make-believe world.
who would send me roses
that smelled like my mother on
on her way to a party? i slid my
fingers down the smooth fluted
vase, felt the red velvet ribbon
draped on its shoulder like a
beauty queen sash, and tried not
to tremble as I opened the card.
“i love you. dad.”
i swallowed tears that stung like
wasps. i felt his presence, his
smile broad, like the first time i
danced on his shoes as little girls do;
he hugged me and bearing invisible
bruises i went my back to my room,
turned on the television, turned off
the world, and wilted into bed.
Plucked from earth
before your prime,
your sun-kissed face
is charred in memory.
You are like the dried
black bud of a red rose,
drained of its lifeblood that
once flowed to its bloom.
One by one your friends
lay black buds at the foot
of your freshly dug grave.
They will not forget how you
lived; they cannot forget
how you died; a moment’s
choice in a calculated life
to drive on a dare, racing a
red-hot car toward a fiery death.
As the last bud is laid where
you rest now, they leave
you in the silence of flowers.
©2016 Shelly Blankman