Part 3

by Jeffrey Murrell

It lay there just for me
Swaddled in green tissue wrapping;
With such a lovely long stem,
Green like its paper cradle,
As green as the emerald isle
From whence her forefathers came,
And the blossom so white and waxy,
Like the citrus-scented magnolias
Of my native Southland,
Fresh and dainty and sculpted like china,
As fine and as noble as any precious jewel;
A rose for me from her heart's longing
To communicate her amorous feelings . . .
The first from a lover I had ever received.

And I placed it tenderly on my shelf,
In a crystal glass, high above all else,
Above my art, my books, my table,
My beloved little cat, my desk and Bible,
There, towering prominently in my life,
High in the corner where I could see its light;
And it stood over that old wine bottle,
A symbol of my painful past,
A squat little thing of round green glass,
Glass as green as the rose's stem,
And topped with the waxy remains of a white candle
Which I had been in the habit of burning
Late at night, deep in my worries.
But the likeness between them was snubbed by the contrast:
One a remnant of my lonely past,
The other a symbol not destined to last,
But a symbol of infinitely greater value.

The bottle I brought back from a far-away place
Of loneliness--just a souvenir I saved
From a time during military duty,
After I was forced to leave my home
And make my young way through the world alone
With the only option at the time I had known.
And I served proudly in that place,
Despite all the egos thrust in my face,
Especially the one called "First Sergeant,"
The one to whom I turned at an eleventh-hour,
The one who was for me 'till then my only "father"
Out in the midst of those cold, foreign fields,
Late, late in the chilly dark morning
As the rest of the world was snoring,
And he screamed at me when I asked for his help,
He mocked how too bad it was my "feelings" got hurt!
"Yes, First Sergeant!" could be my only response.
"Yes, First Sergeant!" were the harsh words I choked on
Before I retreated back to utter nothingness,
Before I decided there was absolutely no hope.

But that was all before this.
Who would ever have guessed
I'd be here, in this northern place,
Whose capital city carries the name
Of a certain president, which was the very same
As that of my old first sergeant?
Who would ever have foreseen it,
That that city would be her favorite?
It holds many memories for her,
Both sad and fond.

And who would ever have guessed
That my sensitive nature would be reflected
Back at me through the feelings she has?
Sad I cannot express my feelings both good and bad.
Sad I cannot count on always having her understand.
But she does--sometimes too well . . . .

How sweet that the rose, in death, bowed its head,
So the memories of that bottle could finally be dead.