The Miracle of Jean's Rose
Her body is fragile as old porcelain
but never still –
its constant motion involuntary,
as though her neurons are trying
to outrun time.
We both try to ignore it,
sip cinnamon tea at her plastic table.
The table is covered
with an embroidered cloth
now dingy, threadbare
but each stitch straight, even hopeful.
The house smells of cat pee.
Her hand trembles – I wait for the tea
to spill or her hand
to make it to her mouth, wonder
which will come first.
The candles like old shoes worn
at the heels, but not ready
to be replaced
still good for cobweb corners,
The waitress at the diner calls her hon –
I want to smack her
but then the stack
of egg-crusted plates would crash
and after all she’s only doing her job,
maybe thinking of her next cigarette.
Jean has breakfast at the diner
every Sunday after church –
still sings in the choir, a new
trill to her soprano.
Every week someone else has passed,
another funeral, another name
to add to the list.
Over a bowl of Cream of Wheat
she says she wants to be cremated.
I ask where she wants her ashes spread
and she shrugs –
I don’t know, someplace nice, she says.
I tell her I’ll spread her ashes on my garden.
It will be winter,
but soon a white rose will grow
through the hard dirt and snow.
Crowds will come from across
the land to see the virgin’s face in the white rose –
the miracle of Jean’s rose.
Diners turn their heads when we laugh.
It’s good to know
everything will be gone but nothing lost, she says.
Order The Mysteries of Fishing and Flight, a poetry collection by Jacqueline K. Powers here.
Back to Top