This is terrific. A small image that opens a door onto something big.
by Donald Hall
White roses, tiny and old, flare among thorns
by the barn door.
For a hundred years
under the June elm, under the gaze
of seven generations,
they lived briefly
like this, in the month of roses,
by the fields
stout with corn, or with clover and timothy
making thick hay,
grown over, now,
with milkweed, sumac, paintbrush.
winter drifts, the melt in April, August
and men and women
who sniffed roses in spring and called them pretty
as we call them now,
walking beside the barn
on a day that perishes.
“Old Roses” by Donald Hall, from White Apples and the Taste of Stone. © Houghton Mifflin, 2006. (buy now)