Shanley Wells-Rau

It takes three years, they say, from planting to blossoms.
My peonies haven’t bloomed yet—
When the Adder’s Tongue trembles its clay pot,
I roll from bed.

Window glass remembers the rattle. Doors,
solid and brave, thump a deeper tone. The house
feels it as a wind. Deep in tornado country
such a wind is expected—the house exhales a sigh.

My mother couldn’t have known her hourglass
flipped that sunny afternoon she dug holes
for blushing Angel Cheeks astride her front walk.
She saw them bloom fat one May,
“Three years!” she said through the phone,
“Can you believe it?”
Before July pushed aside June,
she was dead. 

The ground stops, and I try to remember
when I planted my peonies. I can’t even recall their color
as I walk through dark rooms, reverberating.

My prairie home adjusts itself
to earthquakes. The dogs sleep on
in their elderly state,
the couch well-guarded amid dreams
of running foxes. I crawl into bed
and trace lines on the ceiling.