Peonies, by Mary Oliver

peonie_elena_kovyrzina
photo: elena kovyrzina

If asked, I’d have a hard time picking one favourite flower. That said, the peony would definitely be among my top 3.

Layered, fluffy and papery, I love their form, texture and volume. Mine are starting to form buds and I check eagerly everyday on their progress.

I was helping a friend on her little flower farm on Vancouver Island the other day pinch off extra buds on her peonies (which are much further along than mine) and noticed teeny tiny ants feeding on the sap that gently oozes from the buds. I was instantly reminded of this poem and revisited it when I got home. A clear demonstration of just how much emotion a flower can evoke.

Enjoy, and watch for peonies popping up in your garden and flowers shops soon…

‘Peonies’   by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

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