The Geranium

Theodore Roethke

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,She looked so limp and bedraggled,So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,Or a wizened aster in late September,I brought her back in againFor a new routine—Vitamins, water, and whateverSustenance seemed sensibleAt the time: she'd livedSo long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,Her shriveled petals fallingOn the faded carpet, the staleSteak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)The things she endured!—The dumb dames shrieking half the nightOr the two of us, alone, both seedy,Me breathing booze at her,She leaning out of her pot toward the window.Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me—And that was scary—So when that snuffling cretin of a maidThrew her, pot and all, into the trash-can,I said nothing.But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,I was that lonely.

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This paperback edition contains the complete text of Roethke's seven published volumes in addition to sixteen previously uncollected poems. Included are his Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners The Walking, Words for the Wind, and The Far Field.

These two hundred poems demonstrate the variety of Roethke's themes and styles, the comic and serious sides of his temperament, and his breakthroughs in the use of language. Together they document the development of an extraordinary creative source of American poetry.

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