Monday, June 15, 2009

Roses of Summer

Ten days of largely gray and damp weather have not inspired me to take long walks despite a few breaks in the clouds. This morning was very beautiful so off I went to do a couple of errands. I noticed that the masses of magenta colored rhododendrons have lost all their blossoms and are simple green bushes now. But, I notice the town is full of roses in bloom -- several kinds of roses both in places where they were formally planted and in places that seem casual, as if they sneaked into an empty spot just to add their touch of beauty.

I've just put in the mail, in an exchange, several "summer poems" -- some of my own and others more professional -- like Mary Oliver's "Summer Day," one of my favorites with the final thought, "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?"

Since I'm chugging away on a couple of quilts but not making photographable headway, it seems an apt time to include three in a set of rose poems I wrote when I was thinking of all the places and kinds of roses I've seen, not at all an exhaustive listing.

1. Indiana

They sprawled down the hill behind the mailbox
mere weeds like the Queen Anne's lace
that sours the hands that pick it.
Fragile five=petaled pink blossoms
cupping a knot of messy yellow filaments,
the tangled stems too short and brier-y
to pick. The flowers like petulant
orphaned children, pouted "Leave me alone."
They hardly seemed related to the tall bush in the yard
that unfurled nests of petals so red touching
seemed a sacrilege. The scarlet scent
proclaimed that beauty comes in many vivid
dimensions. Those wild, ragged second cousins,
untended and unkempt beside the gravel road,
their pale faces dusty from the traffic,
offered only a timid, tentative scent.
Banished from the garden,
so plain, so scantily attired,
they would never be taken to the ball,
never be worthy of romance
or to symbolize ideal love.

2. Nepal - The Himalayas

Two miles high in those most magnificent
anciently inhabited mountains, in a profusion
of possession, wild rose brambles tangled,
spreading across a desert plateau
between two high passes in upper Mustang.
They claimed barren acres for themselves
in a field of rocks and sand and goat turds.
Only a narrow foot path led through their domain.
What a delight to cross that plateau
in flowering season! To wade through the miracle
of sudden pink or white blooms, their delicate scent
thin and rare as the air it permeates.
Why build chortens or mani walls to remind
a traveler to wonder at the casual beneficence
of a world where roses riot in such unlikely habitat?

3. Cape Cod

Well above the wave-washed ribbon of sand, among
the tough dune grasses but before the hearty
shoreline trees, thorny wild roses spread low.
Their meager diet comes from what soil lies within
and beneath the drifted sand. The salt sea winds
have forced the roses to flatten their tangles
like a scouring pad, impenetrable except
to small flying or crawling creatures.
In August their fat red hips are storage vats
for vitamin C for the few who use them for tea.
Amid the dangerous bramble the plenteous hips
glow like glass balls hung on Christmas trees,
festive but not so fragile. The shell-hard skin
is polished by the wind-blasted sand to a gilded
crimson that shout choruses of hallelujahs.


AwtemNymf said...

Hi June- I love the rose photograph. Faeries love roses- as it's a sacred flower (one of many). I plan to have some around my house. WHEN is the question- hahaha! My landscaping is a WISP (Work in SLOW progress), but I will have roses someday! Mark my words *winks* It's June Gloom here in CA. and this picture sure brightened my day! Love how the pink pops! Thank you for sharing this! Just wanted to fly by and say "Hi". I have a blog too. Have a beautiful day! Hugs & Faerie Dust

marquettegirl said...

June, I enjoyed reading your rose poems. I especially like the Indiana one. Very nice imagery