The Washington Park Rose Garden in November

The Washington Park Rose Garden in November

Two leather-gloved armies with loppers
swarm over the rose test garden,
our heavy boots squish row by row
to bring ten thousand bushes to their knees,
wind-pruning for winter.

Parks’ staff talk of retirements,
back injuries and union politics.

Volunteers share where-do-you-live,
and try for ouchless in the whack-whack.

A screee blasts, raucous.
Heads move up from down.

A heavyset woman in green coveralls
calls up to an enormous bird riding thermals.
Scree. Scree… Her scree a good hawk.

The tribe of pruners straighten
like a yoga class of fall sun salutes,
stretching backs, rocking on heels.
Hands visor over eyebrows, squint
at a silhouette against cloudless sky.

A juvenile bald eagle
circles our battle of roses,
young wings in wind play,
the one that survives
as the old blooms fall.


Poet’s NoteTricia Knoll volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Garden. Her poetry appears in numerous journals. Collections of her work include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box.) Her forthcoming book, How I Learned to Be White will publish from Antrim House in 2018.

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