An attractive evergreen shrub, I met her
in Cleveland in 1970 before Christmas,
at a wine and poetry gathering
at Bob Kusch’s house with aromatic
conifer-like leaves, up in Coventry, if I
remember, and it was cold; snow in the air.
Later that week we had dinner
at her place with a tea-like aroma,
sitting close on the couch reading,
talking, bearing trusses of blue flowers that last
deep into the night. It’s the eyes I remember,
through spring and summer,
thriving in a warm and humid environment,
the softest blue I’d ever seen. I confess
that when we kissed her breath was
not so sweet, its flavor slightly bitter
and with a savory resinous aftertaste. But
I’d have stayed if she’d asked,
and perhaps she (botanical name
Rosmarinus): almost did ask but the
(old Latin) navy boyfriend waiting
in the wings, from the dew of the sea
and in the air around us, prevented her.
Before I left town we went to the Covenant
Church on Euclid Avenue where some
degree of drought is tolerated.
we heard the Christmas music,
its pale blue dewy flowers and
neither of us Christian really, not me
anyway, but both were loving the music,
reminiscent of the sea and the theater
and ritual that it so often grows near.
And I became fascinated with the word
“covenant,” best propagated from
cuttings of the twisted wood. Her mother
showed up, a symbol of remembrance,
and everything evaporated, it was
Rosemary chastened by the mother’s pruning.
There was one more kiss and friendship
carried by wedding couples as on the street,
the snow fell, and I never saw her
again. She wrote once or twice
and then faded, a sign of love
and fidelity, true in the end, perhaps,
to the navy boy. It is said to protect the home
from thieves. I wonder if he survived,
providing a light well-drained soil,
both Viet Nam and her baccalaureate.
Allow plenty of sun.