Poem: Peony by Louise Warren


What is a peony but my heart blown backwards
into a dry vase?

Fold petal after fold petal sealed up tight
bloodied into a stiffened bud

pressed inside my chest, a flattened Japanese arrangement
waxy pink against the liquid dark

I suck in air through a cut stem
until it opens, until I am all flower

striped flesh crushed inside like a badly packed silk dress
Where is my breath?

I am wrapped in paper but inside I am luminous,
ornamental, ever more luxuriant

I feel the peony strain its ribs until full blown
then wait to feel the petals fall.

Louise Warren has been published widely in magazines including Agenda, The Interpreters House,  Strix, Stand, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, The Lonely Crowd and The Rialto.  She has been a prize winner and highly commended for many poetry competitions including the Troubadour International Poetry Prize.  Her first collection ‘A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo’ won the debut Cinnamon Press Poetry Prize in 2012, a pamphlet ‘In the scullery with John Keats’ also with Cinnamon Press came out in 2016.

Our JustGiving page is open for donations to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund – no amount is too small if you feel moved to support.

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