This one is called Grandchild, this Happy Days,
this one is Soliloquy, this is Crosby
and this one—Maria Callas.
Blossoms of light they stand, idle and blessed
like luminaries. Soon, in her hands she will hold
the spent petals, the public scents—
but for a moment she pauses,
lifts her head, as if some perfume
takes her back through open gardens and doors—
to a woman holding roses close to her face,
a bright red bunch given to her
with words and sweet breath,
with promises and days to order,
with wine and the music of venues and events.
She hears the music she would love to sing to
as she pauses over the roses, and her life
is no longer here in this chill afternoon garden,
but is a fragrance that travels incognito
in her hands: singular and rare.
She intones the idol in each unhurried petal
and listens to the ways some days are shaped:
Rendezvous, Soirée, Tête-à-Tête,
and all the paths are full that fill
the intimate fragrance of her life:
each rose a door swinging open
as she strays then leaves, room by room, for the night—
whispering Cheer, Fiesta, Camaraderie
as if she knew she would never be more alone than she wanted;
past Stage Door, Recital, Double Ovation—
as if roses would always be giving their lives
and their small performances;
as if she would always
be bending to roses on calm clear nights,
as if each were the stairway out of a stuffy house.
And by bending
to the pure fragrance of her life
she could sing any song she wanted, any way she chose.
© Judith Beveridge
From Accidental Grace, UQP, 1996