The rose is obsolete
but each petal ends in
an edge, the double facet
cementing the grooved
columns of air--The edge
cuts without cutting
itself in metal or porcelain--

whither? It ends--

But if it ends
the start is begun
so that to engage roses
becomes a geometry--

Sharper, neater, more cutting
figured in majolica--
the broken plate
glazed with a rose

Somewhere the scene
makes copper roses
steel roses--

The rose carried weight of love
but love is at an end--of roses

It is at the edge of the
petal that love waits

Crisp, worked to defeat
plucked, moist, half-raised
cold, precise, touching


The place between the petal's
edge and the

From the petal's edge a line starts
that being of steel
infinitely fine, infinitely
rigid penetrates
the Milky Way
without contact--lifting
from it--neither hanging
nor pushing
The fragility of the flower
penetrates space

Juan Gris, "Flowers" (1914)

SOURCE: Juan Gris, by Christopher Green (London:
Whitechapel Art Gallery in Association with Yale
University Press, 1992).

Williams says he only saw a black-and-white
reproduction of this painting before writing
the poem, so here's Gris' "Flowers" that way:

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