Barbs of the Rose

Guest Post

by Theresa Barker

Inspired by “Diamonds upon leaves” blog post.

Rose, harsh rose, /marred and with stint of petals, /meagre flower, thin, /sparse of leaf, /more precious/than a wet rose /single on a stem— /you are caught in the drift.

– H. D., “Sea Rose”


Photo credit: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

     It was the sting of it. Whenever she cut a rose in her garden greenhouse, Françoise was careful to avoid the thorn-like prickles that grew along the long straight stems and the underside of the red-veined leaves. She knew from her research at the Institute that the barbs of the rose were meant for protection, like the cactus spines of far-away saguaro in the Sonora desert of Mexico and southern Arizona, where her sweetheart Emile lived. Emile had gone to the Sonora desert to study cacti, just as she had stayed in French Canada to pursue her own research on the rose.

     Je voudrais que la rose/fût encore au rosier. The old French folk song danced through her head: I wish that the rose had stayed on the rosebush. She might have gone with Emile to the sunny desert 4,000 kilometers away. He would be back for Christmas, yes. But by then he might have become accustomed to the heat of the Southwest, to the barbed spiny landscape of the desert. He might never again brave the sleety streets of Montreal. Would he want to skate with her on the frozen ice rink, ski on Mont-Royal, ice-fish at the Village?

     Emile used to tease her: Vive la Canadienne! Long live the Canadian woman!

    Yes, cutting a rose took special care. One must avoid the barbed prickles. Yet the exquisite bloom gave one such delight that it was worth the risk.

    There was the Boda Boda spa for a hot soak, right on the river. They would rinse away those winter blues.

Look around!

By the same Author: the conversation over produce in Zupan’s


      I have been writing science fiction and literary novels and short stories for about twenty years. I have completed two novels – both unpublished as of yet – and a number of short stories, some of which have been published in small sf publications.

      In my “other life,” I have a Ph.D. in Engineering, and I do scientific writing for NOAA to help heal the oceans.

The copyrights on the article belong to the author. The responsibility for the opinions expressed in the article belongs exclusively to the author.

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