The Potential of Yellow Roses

by Susan J. Erickson


I spent my formative years leading fish to water. 
              I heard my mother thinking, You are not living

up to your potential.  Then I was struck by static electricity
              and took up yoga.  The yoga teacher said,

Open toes, open mind.  I opened my toes.  My horoscope
              this morning announced that in a ten-minute conversation

between strangers an average of three lies are told.
              If you and I are not strangers, not average,

what happens?  Lie-wise, I mean.  Today is the summer solstice.
              Given a trellis, the rose at the front door has hundreds

of blooms.  For years, not recognizing its potential, I treated
              it as a bush, pruning its canes like an ikebana student.

Less being less, it rarely bloomed.  For one yellow rose who expects
              a blue ribbon?  I did get one for a crocheted potholder

at the county fair when I was twelve.  Oh, maybe it was red—
              the ribbon I mean,  not the rose.  

Tomorrow, like Frida, I’ll wear yellow roses in my hair.  The thorns
              will comfort, like a friend who does not lie.



Susan J. Erickson’s poems appear or are forthcoming in 2River View, Crab Creek Review, Museum of Americana, The Fourth River, James Franco Review, Naugatuck River Review and in anthologies including Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest.