Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To Call A Rose Another Name

While clearing out a drawer the other day, I found a copy of a publication our local writers group printed in 2002, which had some of my writing on its front page.  Seems I was thinking of mangoes and champagne, or champagne and mangoes, even back then.

To Call A Rose Another Name
by Carol Drummond

If I could make my garden yours, you would breeze through time as light passes through an hourglass. The gate would creak upon its rusting hinge, and you would wish you weren't wearing your whitest shoes. You could smell honeysuckle and think of Grandma's scented handkerchiefs, and remember the child's face when hankies embroidered by Nana weren't what she wished for on her birthday. But tucked inside was a peppermint. The old remember being young.

Take another step and sweep floppy elephant ears aside. Duck to miss a low branch -- a sticky net catches your hair. Look down and to the right to see dozens of webs draping the begonias, luring the unsuspecting with their diamonds in the sun. Stoop to find the architect. No red on black. Not this time.

Recall the morning when those dozens were hundreds or thousands kissed by dew at dawn. Your new husband took you riding in the jeep. Rocky ran ahead, leaping through wheat-hued grass higher than his shoulders, his long ears rising and falling like wings of a bird taking flight. You knew then that dogs could smile.  A blue heron stood by a pond.  A white ibis called out for its mate. You looked from side to side and breathed the crisp air. You smiled. He took your hand and you believed. Another kind of diamond in the sun.

"What think ye marigolds?" the poet said. Or might have said, if he were here.

Note the lone periwinkle bend like your neighbor in her well-worn dress, who must have read When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple. The stem is yellow-gray, as is her hair. You pass her on pink mornings during your wake-up mile, her must-do mile, you in your sweats and her in her earrings and Avon. She grins "Good morning," and tries to stand tall. You keep meaning to ask her name.

Peek through the trellis antiqued by weather. Ponder the stone antiqued by God. Hesitate and shut your eyes before the white chrysanthemums, and the too-young girl who stands beside a too-long box lined with shiny satin. Remember one who went not gentle into that good night. You take another step. And you move on.

Sit awhile. We'll have tea. We'll listen for the mockingbird nesting in the oak. We'll talk of champagne and mangoes and love letters in the sand. Hopscotch and initials on palm trees and castles swept away. And a sailboat. We'll ignore a destination. And try to think of roses called by other names.

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