Two weeks before you die, you take a flight
Leave Africa in darkness for the stark
European light of a new beginning.
Your first time on a plane, first time
To feel the weight of air as coolness
Not the breath of heat.
You are too chilled to shiver, your long limbs
Wrapped up for protection, as if you matter,
As if somebody cares.
Soon everybody wants you, calls out your name
Naming a price, strangers put you in a vehicle, roads,
Then ferries carry you away.
Within days, your final destination - a hotel, a private suite
With bed and silver vase - nobody sees you but the maid
For a whole 8 days.
When you die, there are no mourners and no funeral,
Why should there be? You are a rose,
You are one in every three.*
© Helena Nolan
The life and death of a rose
* One in every three roses sold originates in Kenya and lives for 44 days from bud to death, the last 8 of which are usually spent in a vase.
Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. Last year she was runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Award.