Brigit Pegeen Kelly - “Rose of Sharon”

I loved the rose of Sharon. I would have loved it
For its name alone. I loved its fleshy blossoms.
How fat they were. How fast they fell. How the doves,
Mean as spit, fought the finches and the sparrows
For the golden seed I spilled beneath the bush.
How I threw seed just to watch the birds fight.
And the blossoms fallen were like watered silk
Loosely bound. And the blossoms budding
Were like the dog’s bright penis first emerging
From its hairy sheath. And the blossoms opened wide
Were like the warm air above the pool of Siloam.
Tree of breath. Pink flowers floating on water.
The flushed blossoms themselves like water.
Rising. Falling. The wind kicking up skeins
Of scented foam. High-kicking waves. Or laughing
Dancers. O silly thoughts. But a great sweetness….
And then it was over. An ice storm felled the tree.
With a clean cut, as if with a hatchet. One year
A whole flock of bird. One year a crop of fruit
That melted on the tongue, a kind of manna, light
As honey, just enough to sustain one. And then nothing.
The breasts gone dry. The window opening onto
Bare grass. The small birds on the wire waiting 
For the seed I do not throw. Pride of my heart
Rose of Sharon. Pool of scented breath. Rose 
Of Sharon. How inflated my sorrow. But the tree
Itself was inflated. A perpetual feast. A perpetual
Snowfall of warm confetti….And now I worry.
Did the bush fear the ice? Did it know of the ice’s 
Black designs? Did its featherweight nature darken 
Just before it was felled? Was it capable of darkening?

“Rose of Sharon” appeared in The Orchard (Rochester:  BOA Editions, 2004).  Copyright © 2004 Brigit Pegeen Kelly.