Peter Vertacnik: “Peonies in July”


By six am it’s already so warm
the dew has fled our lawn.
The vaulted walnut chitters on.
Up early to refill the bird-bath,
I shuffle with the bucket’s brimming weight

across the yard, spying the peonies,
their withered heads fused to stooping stems,
brown and brittle, as if burned.
In June they were immense red blossoms
unfastened by the ants.

But now each petal has fallen
alone, lost in the thirsty grass.
Little remains except these slight
singed leaves, still seamed with green.
Still shaped like narrowed eyes.

Peter Vertacnik has had poems published in Alabama Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, Asses of ParnassusGreen Briar Review, Hopkins ReviewLiterary MattersPoet Lore, and Writing Texas.

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