Outrageous as Flowers | Amy Wray Irish

Image: Ida Andersen Lang

Oh poets and their peonies!
“As big as human heads”
Jane Kenyon exalts, her pen
heavy with extravagant
language, enormous
metaphors as big as life.

The perfume of such heady
description smothers me,
face-first in the reproduction
of perfumed pistol and stamen.
Yet it keeps the real makings
of this craft at a distance.

Amongst poets, there’s a secret
censorship of creation
surrounding their beloved peonies—
afraid too close they’ll catch
the inner workings of such art.

Aware they’ll see, let’s be honest,
the ants. Mary Oliver admits
they exist. That something dark
and alien spiders
across this beauty.

She knows that a necessity for budding
is this cutting, this eating.
Knows that the cataract
of leaves covering the bud
must feed the hungry
just enough. Must just
hold back the swarm
to unlock the flower’s form.

These thousand tiny bites
release a poem as well.
The flowering depends on it
yet can also kill.
So we unleash the ants
but prevent such furtive legs
from going too far within.
Allow the justice of devouring
so that the exquisite sweetness
opens.

Inside any creation
is a little taste
of destruction.
To pretend
otherwise would be
outrageous.


Amy Wray Irish (she/her/hers) grew up near Chicago, received her MFA from the University of Notre Dame, then fled the Midwest for Colorado sunshine.  She has been published in Spit Poet Zine and Thought for Food; she has work upcoming in Progenitor and Chiaroscuro.  Her third chapbook, Breathing Fire, won the 2020 Fledge Competition and is now available from MiddleCreek Publishing.  For more information go to amywrayirish.com.

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