Creative | Posted by Talia on 07/1/2011

He Promised Her A Rose Garden

It was 1976.

Peak of the women’s lib movement.

New York, New York.

Peak of the peak.

She was going for a PhD in psych.

She could, thanks to Betty Friedan.

“After you finish your PhD,” he told her,

“We’ll move to Long Island.

Have three or four kids.

Buy a house.

With a white picket fence,

And a rose garden.”

She was nineteen.

She fell for it.

A week after the wedding

He got fired.

It wasn’t such a surprise.

Between the mental illness

Never showing up

And long sick leaves

It was just a matter of time.

“I won’t get a job immediately,” he told her.

You can type anywhere.

I have to do something important.

I have to have a career.

I’m the man of the house.”

She felt like she had been slapped.

You can type anywhere.

Well, she could.

And since he wasn’t getting a job,

She had to.

She couldn’t finish her PhD dissertation.

She was working too many hours.

When she wasn’t working,

She was cleaning his toilet,

Cooking his dinner.

You can type anywhere.

It would ring through her head for years.

She typed for thirty years.

He rarely worked.

She never finished her PhD.

Never moved to Long Island.

Never even bought an apartment.

There was only one child, a girl.

(After nineteen years. He was impotent.)

There was certainly no white picket fence.

Definitely no rose garden.

After 36 years of no rose gardens,

36 years of severe mental illness,

She finally couldn’t take it anymore

And put him in a nursing home.

She told all this to her daughter.

You can type anywhere.

She quoted it bitterly,


She would never forget it.

Her daughter wouldn’t, either.

Don’t be like me, she said.

Don’t fall for that.

Don’t fall for the picket fence.

Don’t fall for the rose garden.

Don’t listen when he says that you can type anywhere.

The only typing you’ll do is legal briefs.

You can, thanks to Betty Friedan.

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  • Liz @ at 6:22 pm, July 1st, 2011

    Just did my final project on Betty Friedan, would have loved to show this to my class! Great work :)

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 10:53 pm, July 2nd, 2011

    I’m honored that you would show this to your class! Thanks!

    I must say, I do love Betty Friedan – reading The Feminine Mystique made me a Third Waver.

  • Maneesa @ at 11:48 am, July 8th, 2011

    This is very well written x)The ending, the last few italicized verses make this poem amazing. I hope you never stop writing, you’ve got a lot to say and a lot of talent that will make people listen.

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