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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.