VASES OF PEONIES
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