By Any Other Name, by Richard Spilman

Would a rose by any other . . . ?

No.

Try it.

My love is like a red, red

begonia.

Doesn’t work.

So the rose —- like this one

climbing a beach cottage

at the end

of a South Carolina summer—

is an accident

of happy naming.

Roman de la Rhododendron

won’t cut it, either.

How much of our lives

are borne by such

accidents of sound?

If accidents they be.

This one opens

like hope

into a pure nakedness,

So, too, the word unfolds

from a pursing of the lips

into a long “oh”

of wonder,

then the hiss

of ocean on sand.

We walk together in the spume

of that long breath.

The ocean retreats

and speaks its name:

“Rose.”

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