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 Note: Tricia 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.