The Peonies

Originally written in 1999.

In the year I turned thirty nine
the peonies did not die
quite the same way
as the peonies always had before 

In the year I was thirty-eight
the fragile man I was then
looked at the peonies
in the backyard

The progress of the year 
seemed so fast 
I thought about how quickly
those pink and white heads

would droop and drop their petals
fade and decay
I feared that if the year of thirty-eight 
continued this pace into

my years of forty forty-one forty-two and beyond
every thing I had learned
by putting myself together 
would come undone

But then in the year
I was thirty nine
I learned that in remembering
the scent of peony

the heat of their pink
the regal ice of their white
in all these memories
there was enough of youth to make

my mortality irrelevant
I learned that thirty nine was an opening and not
an end and I realized the sweetness
of the peony was the product of youth spent lavishly

secure in the knowledge that not only
would the dark strength of the leaves and roots last
the cool shade below the leaves would last and refresh
and their roots that hold so lightly to the earth

would leave their legacy anyway after the year’s efforts
were spent and dried and gone
In the year I was thirty-nine
the peonies died but did not die as they had before

and I rejoiced at how
once the blooms and the leaves were gone
and the grey strong winter had buried their bones
the actual plants in the fullness of their beings

always rose again
from the poor soil
along the garage
It was the year that I opened my eyes

my nose and my throat to the world
the year I passed through fear
to let my seams bulge and stretch
the year my senses saved me from falling apart

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

3 responses to “The Peonies

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