The gardener’s heart

Roses are willful, cantankerous things
with sharp tongues, no patience
and—I assure you—far too much
an opinion of themselves.
They are recalcitrant, mean-spirited,
hold a grudge for eternity
and require constant attention—
which they do their best to ignore.

Bloody roses!

You could take them all, except
(and that’s the issue, that ‘except’)
there are times in the evening
when tamed, shaped, pruned and tied,
they, in their silent serenade to the setting sun
waft onto the night the heavy musk of their ardor
to beg the solace of a shameless, sweet slumber.
And that is when I close my eyes, surrender to the night
and pray that at the end, I too am a rose.

I am not a gardener by drive or inspiration, I am too lazy for that. But I married one and out of love for her I do my best to hold up at least some part of the gardening burden. Because as reluctant as I am to work in them during the day, I equally adore their beauty in the evening. I do a lot of thinking in gardens…

Thank you for reading The gardener’s heart. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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5 responses to “The gardener’s heart

  1. Lyn Tolar

    Thanks, my co-conspirator to tame the rose bushes!

    • Thank you, my heart! Everyone, this comment is from my darling and long suffering wife, who, I am pleased to discover, likes this poem. Then again, she likes roses and there is no accounting taste. Else she would have had the good sense not to marry me! But alas for her and good for me, she did!

  2. I agree with you whole-heartedly, but often the reward justifies the perseverance. I always think of them as being the ‘royal family’ of flowers!

  3. Two words: “stellar” and “magnificent”. The cantakerous-ness of the roses, their audacity to require such attention, and then do their best to ignore it … Help me with what I think I am seeing, feeling, here. This poem carefully accentuates your love for not only roses, but your wife, and you invest into your wife, differently from how you invest into your roses … and at times (roses in the evening) you are present in the midst of a silent serenade. I sense that your wife is blessed by your other-centeredness, and your writing, and your appreciation for what is beautiful. This is good.

    • T, there is a lot of of my wonderful wife in this as she loves roses and I put up with them for her. Also, I guess the point was that, when I close my eyes, (I die) surrender to the night (go to meet God) and pray that at the end, (final judgement) I too am a rose. (That God will have pruned, shaped and tied me so that I am as obedient to Him and praise Him as the willful roses are managed by the gardener and then behave swweetly.