“Wildflowers and Mushrooms in a Woodland Setting,” oil on canvas, by Franz Xaver Petter, 1857.

by Scudder Parker

The peonies and gladiolas are more
seductive every fall. I choose slips

of peony root with three buds full
of color that may prosper years from now.

I dig shaggy gladiola corms,
plumped on slender stalks, next year’s

replacements for the tough exhausted husks
left from the thrust of color-trumpets to the sky:

purple (steeped in black), regal crimson,
slim white Abyssinian, lavender

that cried out to sunset orange;
bulblets cling, intent on futures of their own:

Beauty’s nonchalant kindness
accepts the slow learning of my eyes.

A few days of October sun—they seem
like gratitude, always a surprise.

I plant the slips; come in and sort the corms;
possessed by past and future blooms.

I remember how I dreaded
grownups who creaked like closing doors.

Even now I fear joy might never
be allowed back through my window,

but gratitude’s a different eye that opens—
unnerving in its great permissions.

In sun, on this cold porch, I’m grateful.
Some shy part of me is always

sitting here, no wisdom, no plan; full
of psalms, no notion who I’m singing to.

omega man

Scudder Parker’s work has appeared in The Sun, Vermont Life, Northern Woodlands, Passager, Eclectica Magazine, and elsewhere. His first volume of poetry, Safe as Lightning, was released in 2020 by Rootstock Publications.