His body skinny but for the horns
of cancer bulging from his chest
like thorns jutting from the trunk
of this older man, a lifelong rose-lover.
So he waters and whispers to them
each morning, his broken body
bent to the earth: joyful duty as it blooms
into pink white red fireworks.
After cooing to them, he jumps
into his golden cage, motors to work,
beep-beep!, a two-hour commute
he keeps to religiously. He has to
or he’ll forfeit: the job,
health insurance, chemotherapy,
yet he leaves for work happy,
sun-lit from within, the silent prayer of roses
lingering on his lips:
sweet perfume, smear of nectar
on the hummingbird’s miraculous beak-tip.
Like this he smiles, stuck in traffic,
engines and neighbors overheating,
while he hopes, quietly, for his roses
to be consumed: for a deer or three
to descend the hills and drift
through his backyard, trampling
false limits with soft hooves
as they collect the fallen petals,
each a miniature silken feast, communion
wafers on famished tongues: a god
dissolving into mouths
hungry to taste and see that the earth is good,
even strewn as it is with shards, with
shattered beauty everywhere.