A Humble and Silky Life

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
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, 
and rise, 
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness 
gladly and lightly, 
and there it is again — 
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open. 
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 softly, 
and exclaiming of their dearness, 
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, 
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
~Mary Oliver 
from New And Selected Poems 

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.
Outrageous flowers as big as human

heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.
The moist air intensifies their scent,

and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it’s coming from.
In the darkening June evening

I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.
~Jane Kenyon “Peonies at Dusk”

This coming weekend, I will bring our peonies
to the graves of those from whom I came,
to lay one after another exuberant floral head
upon each headstone,
a moment of connection between those in the ground
and me standing above, acknowledging its thin space
when one more humble and silky life shatters,
its petals slowly
scatter, lush and trembling,
to the wind.

Let my soul rise up to meet You
As the day rises to the sun
Let my soul rise up to meet You
Let that patient kingdom come

When’s the last time you felt steady in the chaos?
Hear the sound when the seed falls to earth
Is it time to give up your destination?
Slow me down, let love do its work
Let my soul rise up to meet You

As the trees and hummingbirds lead the chorus
They work so hard, and their center so still
Is it time for a change in direction?
Slow me down where I bend to Your will

Slow me down Slow me down
Let love do its work


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3 thoughts on “A Humble and Silky Life

  1. Incredible beauty shown in these peonies.
    I had never seen them in the tight budding stage –
    only after they had fully bloomed (with ants crawling
    over their tender leaves – something that I found
    difficult to understand.)
    Thank you for this visual treat – especially the vibrant bluish red in the
    first ones that you show here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am totally weary of death and dying.
    Last Monday my sister-in-law had a cardiac arrest shortly before she got to the ER.
    Long story short, she was put on a ventilator.
    No quetions asked…she’s on a ventilator.
    Yesterday – 8 days later, the decision was made to remove the ventilator.
    Our family gathered around her bed.
    We told her we loved her.
    We sang hymns, prayed, and spoke Psalm 23.
    Now we wait. This is difficult.
    This is really difficult. We continue to wait.
    Just found out a close friend was just taken to the hospital by ambulance.
    And all those little children in Texas.
    What is happening to our world…to our country?
    We are upside down and turned around in so many ways.
    So very sad.
    I’m just weary of death and dying.


  3. So very sad with you tonight, Linda, for so much to wrap your arms around all at once. Our hearts are over – capacity with so much sadness. Please treat yourself with tenderness. Emily


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