The Last Wild Rose

Last night
I was hurrying along a sodden trail
wet from wind and stormy rain
when I caught the pink sunset color of your petals
on the corner of my eye,
you yanked me back to sniff long and deep
your soggy sweet fragrances,
reminding me of a spring blossom,
perched there so round and perfect
all by yourself as you were,
and so heavy with raindrops
among stems already crowded with orange hips
soft and ready to be plucked
at this time of year.

Touching the yellow light of pistil and stamens,
I wondered at the futility of your tender pollen
and the diminutive green belly below,
never to bear fruit at such a late date as this.

I felt the wild urge to break you
from your prickly stem
and run for home
with a gift for Jen,
I paused…
better to leave you and let the wind and rain
and frosts of Autumn do as they must.

So I left you alone again
and continued my walk more slowly now
back home to
my village near the
Bering Sea.

September, 1994
Marshall, Alaska

Poem & Photograph by Frank Keim

Frank Keim is an educator, nature writer and environmental activist who has resided in Alaska since 1961. He worked for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer on the Bolivian Altiplano; as an anthropologist in Ecuador for four years; and as a secondary school teacher of Yup’ik Eskimos in four small Eskimo villages in Alaska’s Lower Yukon Delta for 21 years. He has published three poetry books, Voices on the Wind (2011), Today I Caught Your Spirit (2014), and Trails Taken … so many still to take (2018). In 2012 and 2020 respectively, he published two Wilderness River books: White Water Blue, Paddling and Trekking Alaska’s Wild Rivers, and Down Alaska’s Wild Rivers, Journals of an Alaskan Naturalist. He enjoys canoeing, wood carving and drawing birds for an ongoing on-line bird book entitled, Yup’ik Bird Book. He lives in an octagon that he and his wife Jennifer built themselves north of Fairbanks, Alaska.