Odilon Redon, Vase of Flowers (Pink Background),ca. 1906 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Bright, upright,
They are
Like flowers in a jar.
Nuzzled by eland at a zoo,
Across a fence (“I’m holding you!”),
The one child cringes, laughs.
The other
Dreamily leans against the mother.
The father watches.

Vessels break,
Rolled through a raucous traffic.
Warm nights wake
To sirens. We forget.
The flowers blacken;
The water yellows, stems turn into bracken.

No thing is God—God lives, though, in delay,
In what this is, today and yesterday.

Sarah Ruden has published several books, including, most recently, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible and a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

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Published in the May 17, 2019 issue: View Contents
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