Five days later,
fuller, heavier,
blown but holding
their overripe pattern,
petals in flight
from the nowhere center …

Now longer, two weeks,
and redder, as if
our thought of Eden
raged inside.
What, you said. What
makes them do that?

Crouched over, shoulder
dipping toward the blooms
and their carnal thorns,
you sat up straight
when the earthquake came
that broke buildings in town,

before you bent again
to cut and trim these
to fill our largest vase.
What keeps them with us?
What do they keep?
That perfume soaks the air.

W. S. Di Piero

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 3, on page 55
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