Sick Rose (poem)

sick rose

The rose in my garden is in a state,
I think it’s dying.
It’s partly my fault, I guess, and partly
the plant’s position
in the wall’s shadow just behind the gate.

It looks like a rose with malnutrition,
spindly and wilting.
Some of the flowers have turned sort of black.
Green, pink and white-ish
aphids, an axis or a coalition,

subject the rose to constant attack;
and it’s giving up –
even though I’ve tried to help it survive
with water and spray,
the rose’s resolve is starting to crack.

But I was out there in the rain today
thinking my dark thoughts,
when I noticed a new unfurling bud
poking its head through
a gnarled peduncle, smiling, in its way;

and I watched it closely. Though I could see
insects and disease
ranged around its fragile, virgin petals,
sucking the life out
of the older flowers, it seemed to me

this bud had been given a moment’s grace.
It wasn’t sickly.
Its skin was entirely without blemish.
It had the calm glow,
beneath the gloom, of a sleeping child’s face.

But I know what my neighbour gardeners’ll say
about my sick rose.
‘Pull her out’, they’ll say – and be right. What kind
of garden is this
to bring a rose into anyway?

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