It comes from nowhere, this beauty: attacks. In the dirt-road alley, walking with my four-year-old grandson, a stone wall, formed & fitted well by human hands, and on top of the wall, roses: yellow, white, red, flaring—do you want to smell them, I say, yes he says, so I pick him up, they seem to stun, he goes rose to rose, shall I put you down, I say, not yet, he says, turns his delicate face to me, eyes magnified in blue-rimmed glasses, these roses weapons against my bitterness, and of course I can’t stop the images: young face beside young face, bright shirts, explosions of red—shreds of yellow cloth, floribunda—but I push them back, back, out, then lift him down from the stone wall, and we continue on the road: blackberry vines now, white-blossomed, and he’s excited: discovery! he says, tells me how they mowed down the blackberries up the alley and now he knows where the new ones are, and we come home, his mom my daughter radiant in the yard, and discovery! he says again, and there we are, the three of us, simultaneously alive in the great wide hurt of it, come summer the flowers will be blackberries, she says: an oath, a promise.
Copyright 2022 Gerald Fleming
Gerald Fleming‘s most recent book is The Bastard and the Bishop (prose poems, Hanging Loose Press, 2021).