What’s in a name? the Bard once queried,
getting to the heart of the problem, actually.
It’s still a rose if we call it a wagon or weed.
That’s what he meant, and true enough.
But what’s a rose to a bumble bee or Eskimo,
a blushing Valentine or florist in the corner shop?
Or toddler or poet? The Bard didn’t address
these mysteries, content, one supposes,
with first level wonderment, a fair-sized inland sea.
He skirted the larger ocean that laps the shores
of Saggitarius. Who says what’s a rose? Merriam-
Webster? Or his counterparts in Paris, Milan, or
Pago Pago? Or the aging botanist, once an
American beauty, who’s spent her seventy-six years
lost in the Carolinae section of subspecies Rosa?
Perhaps it’s King Kim Jong–un who can say, since
he seems to know everything. Or God, who does
know everything, but doesn’t share.
Your rose is not my rose nor hers nor his nor its.
It’s a one-of-a-kind that can’t be cataloged, cultivated,
or grown for showing. And next instant, it’s another altogether,
a transient blip winking out over a stew
of a billion genomes and tons of stardust. Yet real
as the thorn that pricks blood from the careless.