The Rose in the Glove, I'll call it,
and right away they'll think A.D. 1260,
chain mail: Byzantium, a wide field just outside
Nicaea, a black-haired Seljuk woman,
skin like cinnamon, and there he threw down
his crucifix, dove into the bud, peeled back
its glowing petals, found God.

But I'll tell them what really occurred:
here in this rocky local soil when
weeding the old roses and the new, I saw
a black tab in the loam and I pulled,
and it was a glove--not the gardener's kind,
but a woman's: long-wristed, black leather
cracked in the nitrogenous humus, and it kept
coming, a whole budless rosebush packed
& rooted in its fingers, the white root-hairs
grown through the digits--simian, albino.
I'll tell them how I replaced it,
longing to know the woman
who must have gardened here,
finding a use
for the empty hands she'd known.

Gerald Fleming
Contents | Mudlark No. 3
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