//roses and plums
ROSES and PLUMS
A country stone wall
with grass on one side,
and an old steep-roofed house
where roses climb;
on the other a stream
with darting life in sun-dappled
water under bay trees and oaks.
One side is mowed,
kempt, the other
spawns a wilderness.
One is cafe au lait
with croissants and jam
and a cozy old couple in the shade
of a dark-green, shiny magnolia tree;
the other is chewy
dark bread with smelly cheese
and strong, dark tea and an old man
weeding stones from the field
for the rest of the wall
while his old wife leaps as high as she can,
picking plums from an old plum tree
for their afternoon tea.
On the side of the grass, roses bloom,
and nasturtiums climb on the side of
a shed; on the side of the stream,
buckeyes wither, dropping their yellow
leaves, no sign yet of their big glossy brown nuts.
The old man weeding stones looks
at his old leaping wife and says, “If I
were starting over, I’d still choose you.”
She says, “I would you too.”
The other couple overhears and nods contentedly.
by Elizabeth Southwood, October 11, 1996