The peonies, those graceful, supple things, are getting ready to break my heart today. One of the many pleasures of this summer has been discovering peonies sprouting in every corner of my garden – an unexpected gift of a first summer in my new home. They’re just at their peak right now, and I fear that the summer’s warmth – here to stay, it seems – will usher their end shortly.
So, in honor of these peonies, I thought I’d share my favorite poem by my favorite poet. Read it a couple of times – I dare you not to cry.
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,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
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 exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
– Mary Oliver, from her collection New and Selected Poems