Priscilla Atkins The 2River View, 8.3 (Spring 2004)
Tree Peony

The Japanese woman
from down the street
knocks on my parents’ door:
long black hair
shawling her shoulders,
she bows deeply,
offers my grieving mother
an enormous pink gift.

crêped, each silky
petal rolls out like a wave, rises,
aspiring to the invisible;
a dozen yellow threads—prayerful,
centered—are holding
the world together.

Later, I find a vase,
set the slender branch
on my mother’s dresser.
That night, lying quietly
in her place
on the double bed,
she hears notes—one high,
one low, one singing.

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