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the night we stole all the roses

Last night
we stole all the roses from the gardens
of the old Avenue –
and I came home with my arms full of dawn.

It was March and it had been snowing.
Oh wonderment! Unheard, unseen thing
in our town! And in the unsuspecting whiteness
of that dazzling evening gown
under garlands of shining stars
suspended from skies as dark as tar
– we played at being teens again and carefree.

We greeted the solitary swan,
the sentinel of our rediscovered Eden,
who flapped a single wing in bewilderment
complete: for he too had never seen the falling snow.
We performed for the mute geese,
the princes and princesses of the garden,
and for the ducks, our gracious hosts,
little Marceau pantomimes and dangerous circus acts
of balance and equilibrium.

We waltzed with the lamp posts
as if singing in the rain,
embraced enamoured those imposing trees
while I pretended they were you
and you pretended they were me.

We tap danced on the benches
like if Freddie and Ginger we were
and you swept me off the back of one
in a whirl like that of leaves in Autumn wind.
Never had they seen such a thing!

We climbed the stone
that made the roof of the princes’ castle
and we declared eternal love for the stars
and reverence for all the gods in Olympus,
the Pantheon and elsewhere.
Brotherhood with the flowers
and the frogs and the grass I did declare
then and there, despite that ungodly hour.
I declined Latin, rosa rosa rosa rosae
and you of Caesar
the posture assumed – et tu?,
you demanded and fell at my feet
fatally wounded, in a laughing fit.
Of Shakespeare some sonnets I recited
and you, your eyes a-twinkle
with your irrepressible unrepentant mischief,
retorted: ‘elementary, my dear…

I remember that just then
a policeman walks by.
He looks at you and I
in turn, and then at the decapitated roses that lie
around you by my feet
(I was playing your muse at that time
and you were worshipping at my altar).
‘Good morning’, he says
to you, ‘mind your bloom comes to no grief!
Some thief has been reported by
stealing all the roses –
of all things, go figure why…’
He cursorily bends his knee at the altar of me and,
tipping his official hat with his fingers, confesses
that the sight
– and the sight alone –
of such goddess
would of him too make thief or beggar…
How long could he have been in the shadows,
I wondered.
But he was gone
back into the night where he had come from.

In the inebriating hours of the snowed dawn
new subjects were broached,
new acts rehearsed,
and performances were polished.
In verse free and flowing
you swore allegiance to Pryapys
and I to beautiful Astarte
and promised as always
that from our faith
– and their grace –
we would never depart.

We threw snow balls,
and imitated bird calls.
You went down on your knees
and, with hand over your heart,
acted the Romeo and I the Juliet.
You were Pedro and I was Inês.
You played the rock star
and played the air guitar
and I…
I played the clown.
Because when all was said and done
and though we were out on the town
and painting it red –
I was scared.

That night
we stole all the roses
from the gardens in the old Avenue.
Among its palm trees
we were a myriad fantasies
and yet you were you and I was me,
our souls naked and in perfect harmony –
a brief we we’d never again be,
still innocent that the future wasn’t ours
and that nothing would ever be the same.

And when the morning finally came,
glowing like fresh snow under those early hours’
skies —

I went home.
My arms still so full of laughter and roses
and the promises in our unknowing eyes.

© Nina Light CC-BY-NC-ND

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