Her name is Rosemary;

Her mother shouted it as the girl squatted in the lawn.

I later confirmed in passing with my dog,

Peeping in the lacey window where she often sprung like a stalk,

The stuttering streetlamp losing a contest to her kerosene eyes.

Many different dogs I have marched down that way

And watched the girl with a water hose,

So solemn and still she must be the font of one of Dante’s infernal rivers,

Or folding her lank legs into a mud patch

Which seems to crawl from her waist to her crown in strands of filth.

What is the hue of crooked light that must emerge from hearts of men

For her to bare her teeth and recoil at our approach?

 

I have committed all my dogs to dirt;

But a woman in a Sunday dress heaves the trash cans to the curb

First one house then the next, all down the long street.

When she crosses the road I see the hair,

The way those flamekin eyes disavow reciprocation.

 

The entry in the clinician’s textbook seems too small for her;

The Greeks might have seen her as a speaker for the gods.

A memory of white pear blossoms emerges with the final flinch of solar light

And I wonder at the shroud Mary must have discarded

To make this plant bear such bulbous fruit.

 

Joseph Byron Bennett

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