of the wilted, the shopworn & the free

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In the alley behind the florist’s shop,
a huge white garbage truck was parked and idling.
In a cloud of exhaust, two men in coveralls
and stocking caps, their noses dripping,
were picking through the florist’s dumpster
and each had selected a fistful of roses.

As I walked past, they gave me a furtive,
conspiratorial nod, perhaps sensing
that I, too (though in my business suit and tie)
am a devotee of garbage – an aficionado
of the wilted, the shopworn, and the free—
and that I had for days been searching
beneath the heaps of worn-out, faded words
to find this brief bouquet for you.

~ ‘In the Alley’ by Ted Kooser, Valentines.

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