“Reminiscent of Roses”–Ren Cleveland

3rd Place Poetry

How empty this house gets at night.


Of course, it’s awful quiet during the day, too

but then there’s a chance the phone might ring

or Mrs. Belle’d come knocking for a cup of sugar

or Brian’d come to change the batteries in the smoke detectors.


But at night,

the house grows bigger.

Or perhaps I’m the one that gets smaller.

Who knows?


There goes the grandfather clock.




Jeff’s boys are getting so big.

And they both look just like Jeff did.

Green eyes,

blonde hair,

that cheeky grin.

And if they have even a drop of the vinegar he had in him,

boy is Jeff in trouble!


Jeff’s turned out to be some father.

You’d be so proud, Tom.


Mary’s engaged.

To an oil-driller from North Dakota.

Real sweet boy, real smart boy.

He bought her a diamond ring and a Jack Russell terrier.

The wedding’s in May.


A spring wedding,

just like ours, Tom.



Remember how on our very first date,

you looked me over from across the table and said,

“Nancy English, I’m going to marry you.”




Boy, I thought you were out of your mind!

Plumb crazy!


If I could’ve only seen us now,

Fifty-six years later.


We had a good run.


Remember our little house on Swan Lane?

That house could fit in this house’s living room!

But it suited us just fine.


Such memories in that house.

All the Christmases, birthdays, dogs…

It all seems so long ago.


And do you remember our rose bush, Tom?

The one you got me for my birthday that year?

Or was it our anniversary?


Either way, it was beautiful.

The reddest roses I ever saw!

How I wish it would’ve survived the hurricane.


We could’ve dug it up and brought it here.

We’d put it right out front!

And buy it a great white trellis.


And we’d sit on the porch each morning

to sip our coffee

and watch our roses grow.

And you’d smile your cheeky smile

and hold me a little closer and say,

“Look at how beautiful our roses are this morning.”


That’d really be something. Wouldn’t it, Tom?


And before we’d know it,

our rose bush would climb right off that trellis,

and grow clear up to the sky!

Straight up to the heavens!


And God would look down and say,

“Well, if those aren’t the reddest roses I’ve ever seen!”


And you and I would politely nod,

sip our coffee,

and smile.


Just us two.

I can see us now.


Oh, the grandfather clock again.





Ten o’clock, already?

Where does the time go?


I suppose it’s time for me to turn in.

I do so enjoy our chats.


I miss you, Tom.

I love you.


This is when you’d kiss my forehead and whisper,

“Goodnight, my sweet little ole magnolia blossom.”


Goodnight, Tom.