When you talked of peonies I imagined grandmothers, rosewater
dabbed on necks, bosoms that held too much blossom.
Now each summer I tend to the buds,
coaxing them with praise and the promise of color.
It’s a long yearning. The promise of something suddenly precious.
Petals miniature circus tents, untethered. And always
the same error—cutting the stems and ushering them inside.
I did not know they were small hemispheres:
a bushel of ants and bees, tiny spiders and linen.
My grandmother was a circus trick, too. She tongued a revolver
and swallowed a bullet. Standing in the kitchen,
I beg the blossoms to stay upright. I wonder if
she cut flowers from the neck down, then watched the bundle
of blossoms spill open like a lion’s mouth.
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