He didn’t seem a man for flowers.
Travelling slowly
to struggling farms down-river
in his black suit and dark hat
pulled down over his eyes,
my grandfather took me by the hand
and led me to the best manure piles,
only horses’ would do.

Deals struck to enrich the earth,
encourage purple and pink blossoms,
scent of Ireland on the way from China,
driven by memory of a father,
fragrances of home produced
by poor sandy maritime soil,
too luscious for a rough new land.

Preferring simpler native flowers;
Brown-eyed Susans, Indian paintbrush
but stuck with bouquets of peony roses
that arched out of crystal vases, eyes
red, my granny sneezed in the parlour
and whispered curses about ants
trailing out the perfumed centre,
petals bleeding onto polished mahogany.

~ Sandra Bunting

Originally from New Brunswick, Sandra Bunting now makes her home between Montreal and Galway, Ireland, She is co-editor of Crannóg magazine and teaches creative writing at NUI Galway.

One Response to “Peonies”

  1. Great characterization and images. I love a good prose poem.

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