Green line roses

riding the green line
one February night
we pulled into the Cicero station
I saw a vase of red roses
sitting on the counter
inside the attendant’s cage

too lush and bright
to be left from Valentine’s
their stems were unbent
I stared at their happy petals
doors opened, closed
we rattled away too quickly
I turned my head
to keep them in sight

what story lies
behind those roses
an apology for an unkind word
or something darker
shouts and screams and slaps
ending in tears and
plea bargains and
“never again”

or do the flowers mean
another anniversary
another year of dishes and laundry
changing lightbulbs
forgotten birthdays
reluctant trips to his parents
sleeping late on Sundays
hugs and I love you

or could Anonymous
prolific writer of poetry
have left such a beautiful
wordless verse
on the grimy counters
of the green line
because he waits on this platform
every morning
waves at the attendant
every night

I want to believe
it’s all true
about Anonymous
just as I imagine it
that’s a world
I would like to inhabit
where people are thoughtful
and surprising
and a few red roses
can brighten the entire city

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