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A Promise to Keep

by William F Dougherty

Words are for those with promises to keep. — W.H. Auden

I promised her the garden's glory:
marigold's monarchal blooms,
ageratum's lavender fuzz, the
grainy beards of coxcombs' plumes;
sturdy zinnias, salvia's flames,
snapdragons, and tiger lilies: raw
cuttings from home to grace a stone
in final, promissory awe.

Crystal-needled frost struck and drained
the promised flowers brown; left them
like rows of shriveled heads to nod
on gallows of each blackened stem.
I bought chrysanthemums and filled
her navy vase with bronze and gold
clusters to decorate the grave—
my quaking hand let slip its hold.

The vase discharged against a stone
and shattered, as if the cobalt night
had cracked again: the fragments gemmed
my gold bouquet with bluish light.
The flowers lost—love left unsaid—
planted in my repentant sleep
the seeds to start a garden of words
where love and promises keep.



06/14/2012

Posted on 06/14/2012
Copyright © 2020 William F Dougherty

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Alison McKenzie on 06/14/12 at 07:40 PM

So far, it's a lovely way to keep a promise. I hope you don't mind if we enjoy the scent as we flip through the pages of your poetry....:))

Posted by Dane Campbell on 09/18/12 at 05:00 AM

Your form is impeccable. I have been experimenting with writing sonnets and also with fixed-syllable lines of varying values. It is refreshing to see someone who is a true craftsman at this. You work has a polished, Victorian flare to it that I really enjoy.

Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 04/27/15 at 01:39 PM

this is just splendid writing. this has POTD written all over it.

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