Swans Commentary » swans.com October 5, 2009  



Red, Red Roses


by Jeffery Klaehn





(Swans - October 5, 2009)  

1.  the promise of love





The promise of love: life's evanescence, infinitely extendable

Red, red roses.

2.  wishing and hoping

From off in the distance you see a light, perhaps the lantern of a world-weary traveler seeking shelter from the elements, hoping to find some escape from the night. Or an old sailor, standing amongst the rocks surveying the damage to his boat, laying gutted where it ran aground. But the girl stands alone, holding a candle tightly in her hands. She is standing by the window with a Northwest view, soft hair falling down upon her shoulders and dressing gown. She is almost ready for bed, to go to sleep for the night. The flame is burning brightly. Many miles away he looks up at the moon and the scattering of stars coloring the night sky, catching each for his first, wishing and hoping.

Red, red roses. Passion.

3.  absolute longing

The briefest promise of love, passion beyond measure.

Her red hair is tied back and the grace and timeless beauty of her face instantly imprint onto his memory, where it shall remain forever. She is, quite simply, so utterly beautiful.

Yet he can only watch her as she walks by, because he is rather breathless and awe-struck and he is really not sure what he could possibly say to her. There, in that moment.

She is, after all, a complete stranger.

'If I had a rose, I would give it to you?'

So he lights a cigarette, and their paths, which had momentarily aligned, begin diverging just as quickly.

She is there right now, he can say something to her.

And he wants so badly to say something, wants so badly to say anything to her.

And in that instant, absolute longing.

And in the next instant she is gone, continuing on her merry way, down the street.

Somewhere 'very important,' no doubt.

Later, for him, unavoidable feelings of regret.

Over not having made at least some fumbling attempt to somehow introduce himself.

Even though, he tells himself, it's silly to regret not having approached a total stranger.

But, in truth, he could not deny that feeling, upon first seeing her.

Passion beyond measure.

The promise, however brief, of something so much more.

'What's that old saying?' he thinks to himself.

We're only strangers until we meet.

He pushes the thought from his mind. Crazy talk, he tells himself. Only in romantic movies, maybe.

He sets about doing his mundane work, which quickly takes his mind away from the memory of her (she whom he will never truly forget even though he only saw her for a few moments, as she walked past).

Soon he has lost himself entirely in his work, which is no doubt 'very important' stuff.

What neither he nor she (who is utterly beautiful) knows is this: had they connected, even for an instant, on that fabled day which he shall not forget and of which she remains totally unknowing (for he did not offer a red, red rose to her on that day), it would have led to the greatest love affair either of them would ever know throughout their lives.

However awkward that first contact may and would have been, it would have been a spark, which is all it would have taken, really.

With the promise of love bringing so much (happiness, unparalleled joy and, in this particular instance, the potential for two wonderful children).

She would have been everything to him, and him to her. If only.

Fate allows for so many different possibilities.

But they were destined to meet only that once.

Destiny gave them only this one chance. And their paths would never cross again.

Another old saying, one which he ought to have had in mind, there, in that moment: 'carpe diem' (popularly translated from Latin to mean simply 'seize the day').

Red, red roses. Desire.

4.  the sound of drums

She dances and he watches her body moving. Gladly would he stay or leave here with her, go anywhere and do anything she might like. In truth, he hears music when he looks at her and would rejoice simply in having the exquisite honor of being in her presence for the rest of his life.

And it would tear him asunder if he ever lost her.

Red, red roses. Rapture.

5.  at that exact moment, in a restaurant across the world

'Be with me forever and I promise you only one thing,' he whispers, taking her hand. 'I would try my hardest to make you magnificently happy everyday, every moment, every millisecond of the rest of your life.'

Red, red roses. Love.

6.  she tells him how she really feels

'You're a good listener,' she says. 'And you really, truly care about what I am talking about, even when I'm talking about the littlest of everyday things. You listen and you care, and you always have. That's one of the reasons why I love you so much.'

'I love listening to you,' he replies without thinking. 'And do you know what else? I love that you share your little everyday things with me.' He wraps his arms around her and gazes into her beautiful eyes for just an instant before kissing her, a quick little kiss on the cheek.

'Sharing your world is something I'm thankful for everyday,' he whispers, softly. 'What would I be if I didn't have you to listen to?'

And she kisses him back then.

'So, um, what are the other reasons?' he queries breathlessly, several longish moments later, during a brief pause in the first flurry of hugs and kisses and moving hands.

She smiles . . .

Red, red roses. Attachment.

7.  ultimately deciding she's totally so worth it (even though he really can't afford all these flowers)

I want to give her white, burgundy and red, red roses. I want to give these to her because she is so lovely and because she makes me feel so lovely.

'Some dark pink roses too . . .' I am, by this point, thinking aloud, I realize. 'Um . . .'

The nice woman working at the flower shop is wonderfully patient with me as I continue my pondering. 'Hm, do you have any coral roses?'

Good, they've got em! By now there's a mid-twenties couple and a distracted-looking fellow in a suit rustling about behind me. I'm vaguely aware of them. 'Um, what else?' I mumble to myself, trying to think fast.

Honey-flowers and Spanish jasmine. A Province rose and yellow iris. And still more red, red roses. Because they convey how I feel about her.

'And, I should think, a peach blossom too,' I say, realizing that I sound undeniably happy.

Because she holds me captive.

'Will that be all then?'

'The peach blossom?' I query. Yes, awesome! 'Great, that's everything.'

'Don't forget the card,' the nice, patient woman says, with a smile. She begins wrapping the flowers.

There are so many flowers! It sort of dawns upon me how much all this is going to cost.

The card . . .

I chose one with a little heart drawing in the upper right hand corner. It's simple, nice.

'Mere words cannot convey how I feel about you,' is what I start writing.

Question: why do they make these flower-shop cards so small? Seriously.

Aren't there alternative options for people (like me, now) who actually might have more than a two sentence catch-phrase in mind?

Nothing against two sentence catch-phrases, mind you, but the compact size of these cards seriously compromises one's ability to express.

'With gratitude and admiration, love, joy, respect and reverence . . .'

And, wouldn't you know it (surprise, surprise), I run out of room on the card with that!

But I leave it like this, mostly because, it just feels right to leave it like this. Even though, in truth, I'd really wanted to write something about her playfulness and about her eyes.

And about how every moment with her is a precious gift that I cherish, with love, always.

Ah, the idea comes to me, I'll write a poem for her, yes, and incorporate these thoughts into the poem, in some fashion or other . . .

How should I begin it?

What might she like most? I reflect seriously on this.

'Okay, all ready,' the flower lady smiles at me. 'So, in total, this will be . . .'

Ah -- yes. 'Very cool,' I say. I smile. Hm. 'Do you take VISA?'

Great, well, great for now at least. I've been saving for this, but it's more than I thought it would be. Ah well. Flowers ready to go. For tonight.

For her.

Mm, the VISA bill will come in about three weeks or so probably. I'll have to find a way to somehow get the cash to pay it off right away. Worry about this later. Have to write this poem in the next half hour if I'm going to make it to her place by six.

I can't wait to see her . . . wonder what she'll be wearing.

Actually, I can't wait to see the look on her face when she sees all these flowers!

I'm so, so lucky!

[He begins his poem to her with this line: 'Fly, fly pretty bird . . .']

Red, red roses. Passion. Romance. Hopefulness.


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About the Author

Jeffery Klaehn is a widely published author and cultural commentator. His scholarly writings have been published in national and international peer-reviewed journals and he is the editor of, and main contributor to several books. At present, he is completing his first novel. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art15/klaehn04.html
Published October 5, 2009