For Charles and Bessie Newmiller, my maternal grandparents

No one spoke,
the host, the guest,
the white chrysanthuemums.

Yellow, pink, crimson, white,roses
rest in a silver vase.

Through the French doors out into the garden,
behind the house on Parkway, I see you,
Grandfather, bending down, the white
New Jersey noon heavy on your back
as you clip your favorite roses.

Across the quiet oriental rugs,
I find you, Nana, sitting in the soft light
of your living room, writing
at the maple secretary,
your back to me.

A single rose stands on one thin
silver leg to keep us company.
The clock ticks on the mantle, china
dogs stare down from the bookcase,
mute as a grandchild watching.

Across the years I see the landscape
of your lives, the enclosure of your plans,
but I would need enormous language, Nana
to have you turn to me, for you, Owah,
to bring me roses—

yellow, pink, crimson, white—
roses for a silver vase.

Published in Over A Threshold of Roots, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook series, 2007