The Woman with the Hose

With climbing roses at her cottage gate,
A gaggle of gossips gathering late
to smell the perfume, in pompous decreeing
sought out a weakness in all they were seeing.
Profusion of colours in artistic array,
Reds, yellows, apricots all on display
Condemned – lacking discipline – all in together.
Mother took the verdicts, as gracious as ever.

And while she is busy watering her plants,
A genuine rose amid sycophants,
she listens without speaking, bar salutations,
is appalled at the slaying of friends’ reputations,
sees through the chatter of the empty noise-gnomes
while hidden within, her great spirit groans.
Cup of tea counselling, fears laid open,
Courage restored, my mother has spoken.

When climbing roses hold their heads high,
and wind their tendrils as though the sky
and earth know secrets too private to pry.
Purveyors of sleaze overlook Mum’s fence,
hoping to see her out-countenanced.
But a double breed season is about to commence
Mum waters and weeds and gazes for hours,
happy to attract the bees and the flowers
imbibing the wonders across the hours.

But my mother gasps while she waters and hoses
the rambling lawns ‘neath the climbing roses.
Sweating she stands, her breath held in pain,
moving away, never hosing again.
A long, last vision of her garden remained.
Gossip eyes glinting, but nothing attained.
No crumbs to scatter, no scurrilous shame,
her climbing red roses remember she came.

And young women drawn from all walks of life,
hold vigil o’er her coffin throughout the long night,
follow the cortege through streets to her grave,
honouring the memory of one who had saved
so many who stumbled that they who chose,
reached out, forgetting the shame they’d disclose,
remembering most fondly, the woman with the hose.

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