How to pick a peony

The expansion-of-time part is important.
Never mind that this is about new impressions
—it is, you know—
but don’t analyze for once; just enjoy.

On Tuesday, ants crawpeonyl the tight globes. Dozens of ants, dozens of buds.  It is said that ants are essential for the opening of these tightly bound promises, that they sip the nectar, somehow loosening the grip of the green glove-like coverings. I don’t know, but I assume Nature knows, and I don’t interfere.

On Wednesday, I check on the peony bed from my upstairs writing room.  I think of paint blobs dropped from a higher place, pooling in small cups in a lower place.

On Thursday, the sun licks at them, smothers them all day.  They like that. They heat up from the outside in. It’s almost as if they are ready to yawn. They’ll open quickly now. I stay at home, check them often.

Peonies bloom in silence and in dignity, and to catch their annual four-day show, you have to pay attention.  You have to be there. If your attention is taken elsewhere, the blooms have come and gone.  You wait a year.  The rare gift of hot pink, snow white, and deep magenta blooms calls for deference, and you feel the need perhaps for an early summer garden ritual that expands time and deepens presence.

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