JANUARY DREAMS OF PEONIES
In the Siberia that is the front yard
I remember the new beds Mike made last fall,
gently arcing bare patches
buried under snow
where someday we'll have an abundance of peonies.
Thanks to our family we have the beds partly filled, already,
with divisions from their gardens,
colors and fragrance unknown,
and dearly anticipated.
I want to be peony rich, to drown in their perfection
To fill vases and ball jars and bowls and tubs and still have too many.
To sneak them into loved ones' cars and porches
the way people do with a glut of zucchini.
We had a massive peony when I was little
(at least it seemed massive to a wee me),
that intensely dark pink that to me is the standard
of peony beauty
and from which my father dug us a plant for the new bed,.
An heirloom from my childhood home's earlier stewards,
planted who knows how long ago at the homestead on Mann Road,
at the base of the biggest hill around.
I loved them so much as a little
that I tried to stuff my mouth
with their deliciousness.
But their taste was not their smell.
When we left Portland
and many years of pouring ourselves into the gardens there,
we left behind the special peony we'd bought in Vassalboro one spring
and, much worse, the peonies dug up from Mike's childhood home
after Garry passed, the peonies from the home and land
we lost to a bank despite our hopes and dreams.
The replanted peonies
that kindly bloomed at Birchvale Drive their first spring
while grief imbued our lives
in obvious but also subtle ways.
that gave me comfort
while it was my husband's comfort I wanted for him,
the one who lost a parent,
unexpectedly and with things left unresolved.
I was grateful for those peonies
but we left them behind.
I hope they're being enjoyed,
giving comfort or at least a pleased smile
when they put on their spring show.
This new peony bed
our first on this farm, this place
we found together in Palermo,
connects us to our families, connects our past and future.
We can always go back to Vassalboro for another special cultivar.
And maybe someday the new owners
of the lost house in Windsor will let us take a small division
and we'll make more connections
between childhood and adulthood
in the language of peonies,
maybe my favorite language of all.