Mary Oliver





Peonies

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?


spoken = Susannah Wood