Incident in a Rose Garden Text of the Poem
by Donald Justice

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Text of the Poem

(Poetry for Students)

Gardener: Sir, I encountered Death 
Just now among our roses. 
Thin as a scythe he stood there. 

I knew him by his pictures. 
He had his black coat on,     5 
Black gloves, a broad black hat. 

I think he would have spoken, 
Seeing his mouth stood open. 
Big it was, with white teeth. 

As soon as he beckoned, I ran.     10 
I ran until I found you. 
Sir, I am quitting my job. 

I want to see my sons 
Once more before I die. 
I want to see California.     15 

Master:Sir you must be that stranger 
Who threatened my gardener. 
This is my property, sir. 

I welcome only friends here.       

Death: Sir, I knew your father.     20 
And we were friends at the end. 

As for your gardener 
I did not threaten him. 
Old men mistake my gestures. 

I only meant to ask him     25 
To show me to his master. 
I take it you are he?