We Children Had No Choice But to Give Up the Roses

and the stone lions guarding the front door under the magnolia
trees, the curved bronze figures resting and dancing in the den,
the matted-down olive carpet running up the stairs, the towering
grandfather clock standing watch in the foyer, swinging its golden
scepter stiffly, ticking loudly, precisely, right, left, and on and on,
every second boxed in by glossy walnut panels and beveled glass.
On guard with the lions, we examined our parents: so easily
persuaded by other adults, dismissing our protests with half-smiles
then sending us to the front porch swing again. On crossed hearts
we swore we would grow up someday, if only to rescue our white
mansion from someone else’s hands. They offered us one last look.
With small hands, we waved goodbye to the windblown bench
and the roses drooping out of the window boxes and we drove home.