Roses in the Window
When you see a window like this, you want one of several things. If you’re particularly dreaming, you want a fairy or a ghost. A fairy or a ghost should definitely be looking in just such a window, with the medieval ironwork and the glazed glass. If you are a high school student unfortunate enough to be force-fed Shakespeare, perhaps you think unwillingly of Romeo and Juliette—because there is a rose or two and roses and lovers go together, don’t they, like laundry and detergent or coffee and cream.
But if you are me and your picture is larger than a few inches wide, you’d see that the wall the vine clings to is rude and shabby. You’d see the bicycle leaning in the weeds and the patchy lawn. And you’d see that the man trimming the dead leaves is dressed in jeans and a worn-out comfortable shirt, a slim and relaxed-looking man with none of the flare or knock-out beauty of a photograph.
“This old thing won’t last much longer,” he said. “It’s the dryness.”
“It’s been through worse.” I staggered under the weight of a filled watering can.
“Maybe. But how long do plants live?”
My husband’s face was pensive. It felt strange to see him looking like that, wrong, but I shook the chill off quickly.
“I don’t know,” I said. “For some reason, it never occurred to me plants die of natural causes.”
His mouth quirked. I was glad to see the brightness and humor in him again.
“I wonder how old it is,” he said, putting the scissors down to press a leaf between his fingers. “I’ve always wondered who lived here before us.”
“Probably a visionary,” I said. “A very cozy old woman.”
He laughed. “How do you put those together?”
“Easily.” I crouched beside him. “I can see a comfortable old woman taking care of it, going out every morning in her bare feet and letting the vines grow. And then, she must have been visionary.”
“And why’s that?”
I reached out and tucked a long strand of loose hair behind his ear. The green from the leaves reflected in his large eyes, brilliant and fascinating.
“Because she must have seen,” I said, “how much you would love it.”