Hope In Elizabeth

By Kathleen Norris

From the train
it’s a city of roses
and rose keepers,
bald men in spectacles
and torn shirts.
There are miles of roses
in Elizabeth, New Jersey,

backyard arbors
shadowed by refineries
and the turnpike,
jungles of scrap,
still brown water, and poisoned marsh.

None of this matters
to the rose keepers of Elizabeth.
From the backyards of row houses
they bring forth pink roses, yellow roses
and around a house on its own
green plot, a hedge of roses, in red and white.

Surely faith and charity
are fine, but the greatest of these
is roses.