On an impulse, you could eat these flowers up
the way they’re floating, stemlessly, side by side
like scoops of ice cream in a crystal cup. White
and softly drizzled

with syrup (almost creeping down from the top)
and shyly turning inward still, each closed bud
leaks red along the seams and gleams like a hot
sundae. What puzzles

is how quickly these petals fan out, brown, flip,
and fray along the edges. If only they’d
stay put — if you could just keep peonies shut.
Open, they frazzle.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated