The Uncomfortable Rose of Refugio

We were kids from the city hunting snipes.
We didn’t know a rose from a hedgehog.
It was night and dark green swells
broke into laughing curling soup.
The tide was in but we had climbed
over the rocks and around
the Point and couldn’t get back.
We came to a cave in the cliffs
where we waited for the rose
to bloom like the moon out
over the cove, light spreading
across the ocean near and far.

Our rose was not sick, like Blake’s.
It wasn’t full of worms or covered
with aphids. Through the hot
summers and cold winters
its mild scent filled the cave.

At night we first felt then heard
the train coming and by the time
it crossed the trestle the whole
campground was awake waiting
for the shaking ground wave
to pass through.

Tent flies opened and a few folks
went out walking in the night.
The night did not howl.
The rose’s name was not
Germaine. Her bed was blue
not red, unkempt and unread,
saltish, seaweedy. We peeled
back the pearl petals and spent
the night on the sandy bed
in the cave as the tide ebbed
and even the waves fell asleep
in the uncomfortable silence.