July 13, 2011

Al Ortolani

Discovering Rose

Not even the oldest neighbor (two
were interviewed)
recalled what this fringe of daffodils
once outlined.
So for the sake of history, they invented
a plausible, potting shed
with stacks of dank, clay pots,
stacked one inside the other,
leaning (impossibly) into
a shadow of tomato stakes, some
tied with nylon stockings.

A pair of cotton gloves, pinked
with a faded, blossom print
quietly feminine, caressed the lip
of a watering can.
Tools (industriously)
hung on pegboard:
the small spade and the weeding claw
and the iron crowbar for poking
holes for bulbs. All were connected
(poignantly) with cobwebs
in a galvanized bucket.

On the upper shelves, beyond
the curiosity of her cats, stood
brown bottles and dusty cardboard
labeled Poison. A sleepy
wasp flitted in the doorway
breeze. She kept a fence (defensively), probably
of painted wire.
Below the fly-specked window squatted
a bushel basket, half-filled
with the neighbor children’s stained baseballs
and scuffed plastic Frisbees.


Al Ortolani is a teacher in Kansas. His poetry has appeared in New York Quarterly, The Laurel Review, The English Journal and others. His second book of poetry is Finding the Edge from Woodley Press at Washburn University. He is a co-editor of The Little Balkans Review.

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