POETRY
Built to Last
Tony Roberts

Built to Last (inspired by John Prine’s “One Red Rose”)


The rain came down on the tin roof, 
creating a soft white noise that Lydia found soothing.
“That roof is built to last.”  said her Grandfather
long ago and again and again in her childhood
Each time it rained.
“Not everything is built to last.  
But that roof will outlive me.”
It rained the day of his funeral and the tin roof held.
Shielding them from the sorrow of their loss.


#     #     #


“Did you remember to give Phoebe her umbrella?” Lydia asked.
“No.  I thought you did.” replied Donald.
Lydia sighed, weary of words that went no where.
Her parents had given Donald and Lydia
a week’s retreat at the family cabin,
An anniversary gift to the two of them,
And a birthday present to Phoebe, 
who shared the day with them.
They hoped it might help.
“It’s the least we can do,” they said.


#     #     #

“Why don’t we go to bed early
and save clean up for tomorrow?” suggested Donald.
Lydia was too tired to protest.
She took one last look around the room.
Dirty paper plates
Crumpled paper streamers.
Half-hanging cardboard sign.
She walked away, leaving the kitchen light on.


#     #     #

As Lydia walked to the bedroom, 
her eyes fell on the family Bible.
She opened it up
and found the rose pressed between the pages.
She heard her Grandmother’s voice
from the day Lydia shared the news of her engagement.
“Marriage is hard work,” said her Grandmother.
“I want you to have this.”
She gave Lydia the Bible.
“This is the holy alphabet for your marriage.”
She opened it up to a rose.
“Your grandfather gave me this rose on our wedding day.”
She closed the book and handed it to Lydia.
“I want you to keep this.”


#     #     #

Now, her grandmother was gone.
Lydia closed the Bible on the rose.
The remains fell to the floor.
Some things aren’t built to last.


Tony Roberts lives in Rochester, New York where he is pursuing a second career as a wordsmith.