VASES OF PEONIES
By Judith Skillman
We bring them in heavy
from the garden, we carry their weight
in our arms as if their pinks
were flesh. An atmosphere is created
inside the house exclusively of scent—
bridal, nuptial, called to order.
Their ruffled crinolines last for a day
and they become tow-headed girls
rallying for a fight, and they become
the spiders in their rose-wings, the ants
walking quickly away from.
We bring and bring them in
as if such a thing as a bouquet
could be painted by the unknown artist
who rents our nonexistent attic.
As if the head, the luxurious arm of green—
outstretched, having slept the sleep
of languor in the yard after bursting
from dark soil—as if even one
of these perfect Persephone’s
could live among our interruptions
and gallant intrusions, the sharp shears
of our smiling teeth.
Judith Skillman’s thirteenth collection, The Phoenix: New and Selected Poems 2006 – 2012 is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press. She’s the recipient of awards from The Academy of American Poets, The King County Arts Commission, and the Washington State Arts Commission. Her poems and translations have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently Skillman teaches at Yellow Wood Academy, Mercer Island, Washington. Visit judithskillman.com