"Father, Grower of Roses" by William Page
It wasn’t difficult for him to separate exotic specimens of roses
from caladiums, so common they’ll grow thrown
to the ground. He went for leaf and thorn of the unusual,
the double and single blossoms of rare beauty
from lavender to orange and scarlet, pure white and yellow,
with names like Butcher’s Choice and Mt. Saint Helen.
He tended them in berms of mulch, pumping tubes of arsenic
into killer clouds for aphids and horned beetles
to lie in piles. Cutting the stems with a pearl pen knife,
careful to avoid the blasphemous barbs,
his selections were crème de la crème. He would fill vases
with purest water till they bubbled with billowing
blooms, filling rooms with sweetness as from a stormless world.
William Page’s fifth collection of poems, In This Maybe Best of All Possible Worlds, won the 2016 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize. His Bodies Not Our Own (Memphis State University Press) received a Walter R. Smith Distinguished book Award. His poems have appeared in such journals as The North American Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, The Sewanee Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Rattle, and in a number of print and online anthologies. His work has been in The Best of the Net and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He taught in the creative writing program at the University of Memphis and is founding editor of The Pinch.