Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Peonies

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

This week the late Robert Siegel of South Berwick takes us into the universe of peonies.

Peonies by Robert Siegel

In June these
globes of white flame
swell, explosions so very
slow, we see in them absolute
fire at the center, stasis
of star’s core,
or a fragile
moonglow distilled
ghostly in each alembic.
From their green ambush these
unearthly aliens assault
us with color
for a week
then gradually fade
into another dimension. As
Dante saw the stars in a glass,
a corolla of souls,
each reflecting
the other's light
and charity, so in these
low white spheres we contemplate
mirroring heavens, petals, tongues
stammering silent music from
one root of fire.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2006 Robert Siegel. Reprinted from Pentecost of Finches: New and Selected Poems, Paraclete Press, 2006, by permission of Robert Siegel. Questions about Take Heart, which is no longer accepting submissions, may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.