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You write to me about roses,
About roses opening as roses die.
Always, you say, there are roses,
So that people get used to them
And cease to wonder.
Now I am on a hilltop,
Bare, with a few pine trees
Twisted by an inexhaustible wind,
By a wind that is never tired,
A wind that passes and passes and is never gone.
I cannot think what it would be like for the pine trees
If there were no wind.


Your roses would not be happy on my hilltop.
They would be scornful of my huckleberry bushes
With their plain, blue fruit.


They would not care for the white meadow-sweet
That leans against a rock.
Roses must have rich soil,
And careful pruning.
They must be sheltered from the wind and cold
And have stakes to lean upon.
They do not stand alone like the flames of vervain
On my windy hilltop.


Roses are gifts for lovers.
Lovers have always had much to say about roses.
When you sent me a rose
Folded in a letter,
Did you know I would open it on a hilltop
Where the wind searches me
As it does the pine trees
And my skirts are brushing
The fine flame of the vervain?