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 again
For a new routine
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she's lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stick to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)
The things she endured!
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or 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 maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.
Theodore Roethke, The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke,
Anchor Books, 1974.