by Susan Laughter Meyers

after T.S. Eliot

Forgotten, the first tunnel
I slipped through
        near midnight of that flowering,
the underside of leaves
                                a map of mildew.

What did I know of the rose
except a bright bud unfolding?
        Pricked my thumb on a thorn.

Every tunnel I’ve passed through,
every rose I’ve cupped in my hand
        to inhale the hour’s sweetness,
has brought me here
                                to this dwelling place.

Let me say it right.
The first tunnel I slipped through
        was a climbing rose,
                                or was it the fire?

I remember now, a smokeless
flame, barely incandescent,
        that one small lick of desire.

SUSAN LAUGHTER MEYERS is the author of Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press), winner of the inaugural SC Poetry Book Prize, the SIBA Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, as well as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column. A long-time writing instructor, Meyers lives with her husband in the rural community of Givhans, SC.