The Yellow Rose.
for Alan Biddle
When his eyes had shut for good
and his face was just a face,
and conversation had slowed
to the ebb and flow of memories
speaking among themselves,
a small gesture recast the day.
She placed a yellow rose on his chest
over the picture of the Sacred Heart.
The gentleness of that moment;
the single rose: how well chosen;
how well she chose it.
His face: changed, full of ease
as through all his illness,
but death had sculpted warmth away.
His eyes shut against us,
fingers tangled up in rosary beads;
I'll remember him alive
or remember the rose when he was dead.