Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hidden in Annie's Red Cloak

Only untended
Graveyard remains,
The village long
Taken for wood.
Even the church;
Once moved by, now
Vanished with, Spirit,
Its steeple gone
For a horse trough.
Only the mute stones,
Barely legible,
Remain to testify
Of what was once.

A found rose,
Scarlet splash arching
Forgotten grave,
In this quiet place of
Weathered words.
A rosehunter called it Annie’s Red.

She lies here now,
The rose a crown,
Each flower a story only
Annie’s Red could tell.

A young wife
Pioneering the Pecos,
Bringing her rose
From the east, a memory
Of left behind;
Taken in childbirth,
The rose planted
By a grieving husband.

The saloon girl
Who loved her
Petticoats of red,
Moving too close to
A drunken gun,
Petticoats forever
Stained red.

The seamstress, perhaps,
Who rode the train west,
Primly adorned
In ribboned hat
To find new life;
Only found the fever.

The farmer’s sister,
Pining for a lost heart,
Kicked by a raging stallion.

A hundred gentle stories,
Or a hundred violent stories,
A hundred women
With hopeful hearts.

But the expert
Triumphantly declaimed
No found rose,
No Annie’s Red.
The rose thriving
Across Annie’s sleep
Was Cadenza, wearing
Annie’s red cloak,
Born long after
The grave was forgotten.
Not 1860s child,
Not the memory
Of the civilized East
Planted in the uncivilized
But 1960s child,
Wild and arrogant,
Untamable, overreaching,
The cloak removed, Cadenza
Vapored inventions
Into disappointments.

Sstill a mystery
Whispered by the stones:
By whose hand planted,
By whose hand sprouted
And tended?
The cadence of the
Whispers and sighs
Circles the imagination.
Only the stones know.


L.L. Barkat said...


"The village long
Taken for wood."

And this is a wonderfully rich, moving piece. Where inspired?

Glynn said...

I have this rose in my garden -- Planted years ago when it was called Annie's Red, an unknown rose found growing on an old tombstone in Texas. Then someone came along and said it was actually the rose Cadenza, hybridized in 1967. I was disappointed at first, and then began to wonder who planted a rose on a grave most of a century later?

Maureen said...

I have read and re-read this several times this morning. I just love it. Its multiple stories are beautifully sustained through the vision and image of "red". Very, very nice!

I am reminded of the very old sections of Arlington Cemetery; my father is buried in one of these sections, where the graves date to before the Spanish-American War. Every so often, while visiting, I come across some reminder of a presence that's come and gone so mysteriously, leaving behind stones on top of the marker or, at Christmas, a tiny little bush that's always decorated; even, once, a medal. So many stories waiting to be told.

nAncY said...

beautifully planted