Annie’s Plenty

Leslie Adrienne Miller | Poetry

We cannot stop mourning the Chinese peonies,
their milk white blooms, fringed and doubled

like a forest of moons in the twilight,
or quit our disgust at the woman who had them

scraped and buried for an expanse of new sod,
sod her jowly he-dog will splatter with pee

and kill patch by patch because she is too busy
smoking and poking her phone on the deck

to walk him. Two ridiculous red cannas stand
in the former herb box like nutcracker soldiers,

and everything else we loved sleeps in a tangle
of broken root beneath the new mat of lawn. Sturdy

sedum, two story clematis, Dutch tulips, and wild
ginger, Siberian iris and scarlet lilies. Even

the long-limbed rhododendron got hacked
and carried off. The honey crisp refused

to flower, and the honeysuckle poured under the fence
to escape. Angular and graceless as the dog,

the mother of all this ruin lounges in full view
now that nothing remains to block our scrutiny

of the green moat around her seat. We would
have come for the peonies if we’d known,

if any one of us had guessed Annie’s blousy
miracles were up for grabs. We’d have divided

them among those who adored their first tender,
she who walked the bouquets to our doors each spring,

invited children to tweezer mealworms
for the chickadees, stand on tiptoe, and peer

into their tiny nursery. The gift of her wet
eyes above the blooms delivered for each

of our griefs. Now the exterminator truck
arrives at regular intervals and sprays down

the whole lot, and the alley fills with busted
plastic toys as the only child grows, his fleet

of nannies ever changing. The men
who once came often with their muscles

and hopes, also scraped and buried too deep
to try their soft tips against that earth again.