Cherish by Ray Carver [finale in a trio of ‘Valentine’ poems by the great writer]

From the window I could see her bend to the roses
holding close to the bloom so as not to
prick her finger. With the other hand she clips, pauses and
clips, more alone in the world
than I had known. She won’t
look up, not now. She’s alone
with roses and with something else I can only think, not
say. I know the names of those bushes

given for our late wedding: Love, Honor, Cherish –
this last the rose she holds out to me suddenly, having
entered the house between glances. I press
my nose to it, draw the sweetness in, let it cling – scent
of promise, of treasure. My hand on her wrist to bring her close,
her eyes green as river-moss. Saying it then, against
what comes: wife, while I can, while my breath, each hurried petal
can still find her.

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