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Peonies Poem By Mark Wunderlich

Peonies Poem By Mark Wunderlich

In the yard, peonies burst their white hearts,
scalloped edges unfolding only for themselves.
Their simplicity, the blade of it, cuts the morning.
In this Brooklyn of yards haloed in razor wire
and laundry flapping like flags of surrender,
resin smoke drifting up to these windows,
traveled shadows from a smoker’s lungs,
I watch the police helicopter menace the neighborhood,
its engine hooking together manifold locks
and keys. Even now, in the face of this sickening,
there is forward movement, American needs
forcing my hand, each day a dull pearl
strung on a weakening line. The last time I saw you,
I held my hand over you while you slept, imagining heat
rising in green and red, as in a photograph of heat,
your body giving up its one treasure. There,
is such savagery in this neglect—muscle strain,
fluid failure, the flesh receding
from bone until we are left with the indelible
print and fracture, our cells snapping
in a survivor’s brain like grainy pictures,
the only way we’ll last. I brought you peonies—
pink, like a shell, like a heaven, a mouth,
an infant, an infinity, a crisis, an end.

Mark Wunderlich
from The Anchorage

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