Sarah Pape



The peony's white dress torn
under, pink and yellow heavy heads               

break in deference to the unyielding
sun. What grows large, year after

year, buds springing up even
when uninvited? Cut past

the bloom, the berry crushed easily
between your teeth. When I’m

gone, you too, will disappear.
Remember who taught us

the names—lysimachia, monk’s hood,
veronica, valerian—remember

who was there when the sky broke
like spring ice, some place you belonged

before you knew the names of places
or how green can come all at once.





This was written at the Georgeson Botanical Gardens in Fairbanks, Alaska. I've learned many things in the far north—the names of plants, the persistence of light in summer, and the tenacity of beavers. In this exaggeration of life, teeming and busily building, I couldn't help but think of the ways nature will go on long after us, which is a thought that never fails to give me hope.