"A dollar a rose!" the old man cried,
As he displayed his scarlet bouquet,
"A dollar, sir, for your lady's smile,
A dollar a rose today!"
He stood in the cold outside the marquee,
A prime spot for the theatre crowd,
He'd catch them going in and out,
So clever he was, and proud.
He was old and bent and wizened,
Which had nothing to do with his wares,
For his roses all sold themselves,
The most beautiful anywhere.
Even in the dead of winter,
He'd present a fresh supply,
No matter the snow or degrees below,
His roses were red and alive.

"A dollar a rose!  A dollar a smile!"
The old soul called out every night,
And one by one, each rose disappeared,
As his customers smiled with delight.
His roses, the reddest seen on the street,
No other vendor compared,
Their color - vibrant, rich, and deep,
Magnificent, glorious, rare.
He wouldn't go home 'til all were sold,
Sometimes, in the wee, small hours,
Often exhausted, damp,and cold,
But happy he'd sold all his flowers.
He lived in a shack, down near the tracks,
The inside of the place was amazing,
A hot house of sorts for his roses,
Where he spent all his time in their raising.

He'd talk and sing to his flowers,
His babies - his passion - his love,
And should they look puny or pale,
He'd give them a drop of his blood.
The secret of their rich color,
The clue to their depth and hue,
One tiny drop of their caretaker's blood,
And they were red and fresh and new.
One winter night at the theatre,
He was stopped by a handsome, young man,
"I want all of your roses," he said,
For the wedding my girl and I've planned."
"Double, I'll pay for your trouble,
For only your roses will do,
My sweetheart wants the very best,
And that's why I've come to you."

So the old man went home to his roses,
And turned up the heat in his room,
He cajoled and nurtured his babies,
'Til he brought them all to full bloom.
But the night before the wedding,
The city's power went down,
And by morning, his lovely red roses
Were frozen and turning brown. 
Drastic measures must now be taken,
Little choice left for the man,
Concerned almost beyond reason,
He put together his plan.
And by noon, he delivered the blooms,
They were healthy, straight and tall,
They were full and lush and red,
He'd emptied his room of them all.

His pockets now bulged with money,
Never, ever had he so much,
He was weak in the knees and trembling,
He splurged and rode home on the bus.
He stood and looked 'round his bare room,
Just one dying rose left to love,
He dropped the money and picked up the rose,
Then lay down and died ... with no blood.
Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
Copyright May 2003


The midi file playing
is the lovely work of Margi Harrell.