Click here to listen to Mark Jarman read this poem.
“There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.
This is what shall be in the end without end.”
—St. Augustine, The City of God
After she had had her operation
and they went to the famous rose garden
overlooking the city, she in her post-op turban,
he with the keys to the rental car,
they looked out at the rain-gray city,
sitting on a towel on a wet bench
among the late roses and those just coming
as the ragged cumulus sailed west.
The rose garden dwelt in its self-absorption.
The city’s towers looked after the sailing clouds.
The turban of silk scarf the mother wore
was red as one or two roses holding on.
And the son was pleased to see that.
That moment together, before the lovely city,
loving each other in the aftermath,
with praise for such a place, praise and the sense
that it would have to end in a little while,
gave them their pleasure among the roses,
most of them stalky skeletons and twigs
to tell the truth, which they did not wish to tell.