Espaliered tree

Grave Side

            He leaned over the porch rail, lifted the rosebud to his nose and found it odorless as moonlight.  One sweet breath was all he’d wanted, to connect him to his mother’s house.  Something better than the urine-stained carpet, the molds that grew in the half light of the basement since she’d become too old to climb up or down stairs, better than the perfume in all the clothes he’d lifted from the closet pole, the ones that had wafted into the front seat on the way to the Good Will thrift store.  And better than the gaudy pungency of funeral flowers.
            He had wanted a smell as simple as she was, full of the good intentions of a well-cooked meal, direct conversation, a small glass of sherry and an orderly house.  She had always lit a vanilla candle and let it burn for ten minutes, but an hour before his visits, so that the smell softened, signaling its presence by its absence.
            Absence was all she’d left him, her flowers still blooming in the yard, iris and phlox.  And the first of the roses.  He tried to find their smell, and heard her voice:  “Those sweet-smelling roses are difficult.  Give me a hardy one, easy on the eye, one that doesn’t want much and doesn’t want for much.”
            Such a woman she was, planted now on the edge of town, the town he’d soon leave for good after he’d transplanted a rose to her grave side.  He exhaled.  Breathed in again.

"Grave Side" first appeared in Soundings East




Artichoke symbol


Winter onion

Rose etched in tombstone

Dead potted plant


Willow tree


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