Peonies by Mary Oliver

The sad ache of the body when it is exhausted to its bones. A deep, intense craving to find the curve of the bed, the leftover warmth from this morning. To burrow. To be shameless: here, a plea to ask for a cocoon of arms and legs and lips and hair and sighs.

Peonies
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?

1 Comment

  1. Linda T- This is the poem- it was Mary Oliver. Sharon Olds has mention of Keats’ peonies but it is a poem about birth. Not the one we are looking for. Thanks love – Hope you are well.

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