A Gift of a Rose

Fred D’Aguiar

Two policemen (I remember there were at least two)
stopped me and gave me a bunch of red, red roses.
I nursed them with ice and water mixed with soluble aspirin.
The roses had an instant bloom attracting stares
and points from children; toddlers cried and ran.

This is not the season for roses everyone said,
you must have done something to procure them.
I argued I was simply flashed down and the roses
liberally spread over my face and body to epithets
sworn by the police in praise of my black skin and mother.

Others told me to take care of the flowers, photo them,
a rare species, an example for others, a statistic;
that the policemen should be made a return gift
crossed several minds – a rose for a rose.
With neglect, they shrivelled and disappeared.

Stopping all the looks when I went Saturday shopping.
Though deflowered, a memory of roses burned clear.
Now, when I see policemen ahead, I take the first exit;
I even fancy I have a bouquet of my own for them;
I pray they’ll keep their unseasonable gifts to themselves.