Most people say that peony bushes
are difficult, growing well only
for those special few.
My grandmother possessed
that special touch,
her peony bush was enormous,
nearly blocking the back door.
Its flowers rippling
like curtain-lace, contrasting
stark white splashed
against the aged ochre brick
of the old house, much higher than my childish head, waving
in the summer wind like an emerald banner
dotted with riotous blooms.
Grandmother would pick through
the blossoms selecting a few,
each for the rider inside.
When found, she plucked
it from its fragrant home, deposited
it upon an unfurled bud.
People complain about the ants, she said,
but without them, the flowers won’t bloom.
Just make certain you pick them out
before bringing the bouquet indoors.
Then she looked over at me
to see if I was listening,
understanding the wisdom she imparted.
Now whenever I smell the spicy-sweet scent
of peonies, I remember her smile,
then seek what’s special inside
that makes the world bloom.