After Mary Oliver’s “The Bleeding-heart”
There is a rose bush beside my grandmother’s dining room window that reaches up to the gutter. Its branches—thick as Crayola markers—are tied back because they can no longer hold their own weight. When it blooms it’s a gentle pink, like a baby’s blanket. That rose bush has been there since before I was born (more than thirty years) and as long as anyone can remember. Like so many family stories, I don’t know exactly where this one begins. Families, have you noticed, lack a certain simplicity. More fitting, anyway, is to think about where stems from that bush have taken root: my house, my cousin’s, my mother’s. I don’t know yet if mine is going to make it. But if it does, every summer, in all those different places, the same rose—pale pink as love itself—will open in a perfect sphere of tissue soft petals. You could say she was not a simple woman. Though she knew how to grow roses, that much is true. And never, in my whole life, would I have wished to be her.