The most perfect was pressed
between parchment pages of Horatio
Nelson and The Naval Supremacy of England, unseen,
unheld, since its trip to the attic in 1969, the year
Jon Benjamin returned from Vietnam.
Wild roses along the Susquehanna suffer
greatly by horticultural comparison to American
Beauty, though their capacity as tokens of childhood
memory remains just as real. Unlike Nelson, it wasn't possible
to trace Jon Benjamin's life through a botany of flowery phrases.
No bewitching Lady Hamilton imparted an element
of romance; no Battle of the Nile marked a triumphant
achievement; no Trafalgar sealed his place in his country's
history. Alive was what we asked for, selling short
even our simplest prayers. Neither a thousand ounces
of silver, nor a hero's welcome, would have improved
the roses -- or the look of a nation's betrayal in his eyes.
© 1999 Heather Long