The Day I Helped Lop Ten Thousand Rosebushes

The Day I Helped Lop Ten Thousand Rosebushes
Washington Park, Portland, Oregon on November 9, 2016

Wind pruning we call it. Taking the garden down
to wrist high so when the winter winds blast
down the gorge, low canes stay rooted,
refuse to topple, stand for the long haul
to first leaves, bud and bloom.

We were a tribe in coveralls and gloves,
pricked with razor thorns and lament.
The day carried November sun despite our gloom.
Our lopper tools were dull
from a summer long of use, needing
sharpening hours of winter downtime.

Yet, we lopped and whacked and whacked
and lopped. Hauled the remains on tarps
to a bucket loader for the dump truck.
One woman sorted through the loads
of fallen thorns and canes for the few tight buds
of orange and red flame mixed with yellow
that survived this late November.

We lopped and whacked and whacked
and lopped, and bent our backs, tired
from too late a TV night. Repetitive motion
to ensure the thorns will grow back
and perhaps allow another rose
to bloom out of this fierce, sad work.