“The Potential of Yellow Roses” by Susan J. Erickson
I spent my formative years leading fish to water.
I heard my mother thinking, You are not living
up to your potential. Then I was struck by static electricity
and took up yoga. The yoga teacher said,
Open toes, open mind. I opened my toes. My horoscope
this morning announced that in a ten-minute conversation
between strangers an average of three lies are told.
If you and I are not strangers, not average,
what happens? Lie-wise, I mean. Today is the summer solstice.
Given a trellis, the rose at the front door has hundreds
of blooms. For years, not recognizing its potential, I treated
it as a bush, pruning its canes like an ikebana student.
Less being less, it rarely bloomed. For one yellow rose who expects
a blue ribbon? I did get one for a crocheted potholder
at the county fair when I was twelve. Oh, maybe it was red—
the ribbon I mean, not the rose.
Tomorrow, like Frida, I’ll wear yellow roses in my hair. The thorns
will comfort, like a friend who does not lie.
Originally published in Sweet Tree Review
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Susan J. Erickson Artist Statement:
In 2017 my first full-length book of poetry “Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine”
will be published by Brick Road Poetry Press. It is a book of poems in women’s
There is an Emily Dickinson poem that reads, “If your Nerve, deny you–/Go
above your Nerve–”. I think of this book as telling the story of women who
went above their nerve. I wanted to understand their contributions, pay
homage to them and maybe dramatize how each of us can go above nerve.
I came late to poetry and will be 77 when the book is released. I hope my story
encourages older women to pursue their creative talents.