It’s our first spring in the garden at Wingate house, and among all the wonders unfolding around us, the poppies — with their odd, hairy pods, their tightly packed tissue paper petals unfurling hour by hour — are one of the greatest pleasures.

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Before they opened, Hugh reverently enfolded the pods in his little hands and just barely resisted the urge to squeeze.  (Gentle, gentle, GENTLE!)  He ran a finger along the split seam of an opening bud and attempted to help it along, peeling back its edges to coax the bright orange mystery out into the sun.

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I will resist the parenting metaphors.

Except for this one comment: when you anticipate the beauty hidden within, every moment of unfolding, bending, dancing in the breeze is thrilling.

I check on them every day, multiple times a day. They catch my eye from across the garden, and I have the urge to rush over and see what’s new.

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I read and read and read Mary Oliver’s brilliant poem, one of my favorites long before I had poppies of my own to contemplate.


The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

Mary Oliver

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One thought on “Poppies

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