I stop at the flower lady's cart
to see if she has roses. There are a few,
with straggling leaves, but the blooms
are decent still, especially those in pink.
She interrupts her desultory lunch,
brushing crumbs from her sleeve, to slip
a long-stemmed pink from among the buds,
carries it to her work table, and deftly wraps
the stalk in a yellow paper, tying it,
gentle-fingered, with a thin red ribbon.
I watch her eyes as I buy; they are like
those in the face I love, but the spirit is closed:
she has dwelt upon disappointments.
As I turn away, I see in my mind's
eye, myself turning back to buy for her
one of her own roses. Idiot! I tell myself,
no doubt she must throw away many; wouldn't
she be sick, by now, of flowers?
Trading, as she does, in these signs
of the happiness to others, what would be
happiness for her, here, today? I catch
her tracking me warily; now, as if to say:
is there some problem with the rose? No.
Or, rather, yes. Or no. I stand, unworded
by the mystery of unshareable joy.