Candice Kelsey: “We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden”





We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden

at the Huntington Library
we trekked toward
the tussled little squares
of horehound
licorice lavender mignonette
and heliotrope
waiting impatiently
like overgrown graves
with bamboo souls
hovering mid-trellis dance
for people like us
who strolled on occasion
when the weather was just right
past the tearoom
into the Herb Garden sustenance
of thumb and forefinger
rubbing like grasshoppers’ legs
to release the scent
of garlic chive and lemongrass
even lovage borage
or sometimes marjoram
such funny words
that seem to rub together
now and release the memory
of a time when my children
had no interest
in the predictability of roses
preferring again and again
the chaotic clusters
of sweet alyssum
which I’ve come to learn means
worth beyond beauty


About the Author: Candice Kelsey teaches writing in the South. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore among other journals, and her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the 2019 Two Sisters Writing’s Contest and was recently nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Find her at


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Faded Rose” (2021)

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