Commentary Magazine


Roses for My Grandmother

The gardens of her mind where she most
    often lived
Amidst all useful fruits and grains,
Were fair pavilions raised beneath sweet
       glass:
Like breads, like cookies shaped to lily for a
       holiday.

She, planter, gardener to a palace—Solomon’s
       perhaps—
Endowed such monuments as in me echoed
       strength:
My hunger satisfied, my eyes in brimming
       million leaves
With spring through all the year my single
       childhood season.
But useful, useful: that one blade
Of grass, that only leaf, that carven apple
       never went astray.
Always and by magic turned to worshipful
       design.
Such tribute made one child a prince; made
       me that prince.

Thus at the finish when a winter grew
Like death into the orchards of her time,
I brought her useless roses of a luxury
She never understood but lay in reckless
       awe.

We wept for love of beauty, she and I,
And in her thanks there was no bread or
       food.
A perfume filled the kitchens of her soul
Where even thorns were beautiful to her.

_____________

 

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