I wait like a beggar, with hands outstretched, While crowds flow by in holiday clothes. Faces with polite smiles turn, stare blankly, Sweep past, not seeing the clutched and tattered rose. I wait with silent, imploring gaze, My once-bright gift still held high, But the arms tire at last, the hands fall limp, The flower dangles, its petals dry. And then, when hope is nearly dead, I look up, find one standing there, Seeking beyond my tired eyes The child within: defenseless, bare. Then I brighten, straighten my tired back, Wipe away my silly, false painted grin. The face is pale and calm and kind, A fellow searcher, alive within. Perhaps this is whom I seek: A friend, a lover, for a while. I raise my hands in joy again, Hold out the rose with trembling smile. The other examines my dusty gift, Looks up with mute apology, turns, moves on. I yearn to reach, to catch, to hold, But fear to tear one so frail, so wan. The promise passes, forever unfulfilled; I'll wonder always what will never be born, While the rose drops forgotten to the frozen ground: New-reddened from too close-clenched thorn.
copyright 1983 by Brian K. Crawford