The Rose


a labyrinth,
as if at its center,
god would be there –
but at the center, only rose,
where rose came from,
where rose grows –
& us, inside of the lips & lips:
the likenesses, the eyes, & the hair,
we are born of,
fed by, & marry with,
only flesh itself, only its passage
– out of where? to where?

Then god the mother said to Jim, in a dream,
Never mind you, Jim,
come rest again on the country porch of my knees.

from Little Boat (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), © Jean Valentine 2007, used by permission of the author and the publisher. Poetry Foundation recording made on 10 July 2007, New York

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