Rose season: Gruss an Aachen

Pale pink rose

I brought this rose from the old house 15 years ago. It was one of the first four I planted there in 1994 when I started to dig up that yard, and it became a part of this poem.

Love Apples

Each cut and push of the shovel sings inside her
and she imagines the summer garden
awash in lavender and meadow rue.
In the darkest corner she’ll plant a bleeding heart,
fleshy pendants dripping ruby in the shade.
She invokes the names of roses: Gruss an Aachen,
Reine des Violettes, First Kiss

and wonders what he would plant if he were here,
whether it would be a good year for tomatoes.
Pommes d’amour. Each spring he would start
with ardent intentions, watch the sun ripen
garnet hearts that swelled to splitting,
lay sliced and bleeding on the plate.
He would eat them until his mouth hurt and want more,
regretting the slender harvest.

Sunlight eases between her shoulder blades,
warms the distant hilltop where she’s placed what he left behind.
She turns the earth over and listens for him
in the stillpoints of her stubbornly pumping heart.

“Love Apples” originally appeared in A Steady Longing for Flight, Floating Bridge Press.

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