We’ve had, against all expectations, a cool, wet Spring here in Columbia’s District.
The roses are going mad, imagining that they live in England (esp. the David Austen ones) rather than in a place that’s honestly too hot, too made of clay, and too buggy for roses. It’s maybe the best year for roses that I’ve ever seen (including those roses with my favorite name: Cuisse de Nymphe, or, in English, the Inner Thigh of an Excited Nymph) and I’m almost sorry that I don’t grown any roses.
It’s also an amazing May for peonies. If you live in a part of the world where they don’t grow peonies, then, I am, truly very, very sorry for you, because peonies are kind of the uber-flower, the archetypical flower, the apogee of flowers, even more than roses are, because peonies are more ruffled, and have no thorns and are, well, peonies. And, also because Mary Oliver wrote, I aver, a better poem about peonies than has ever been written about roses, although, feel free to prove me wrong in comments.
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
Go on, you. You go on and be wild and perfect for a moment before you are nothing, forever. Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, now.
Picture found here.