Henri Cole

Poppies
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Waking from comalike sleep, I saw the poppies,
 
with their limp necks and unregimented beauty.

Pause, I thought, say something true: It was night,

I wanted to kiss your lips, which remained supple,

but all the water in them had been replaced

with embalming compound. So I was angry.

I loved the poppies, with their wide-open faces,

how they carried themselves, beckoning to me

instead of pushing away. The way in and the way out

are the same, essentially: emotions disrupting thought,

proximity to God, the pain of separation.

I loved the poppies, with their effortless existence,

like grief and fate, but tempered and formalized.

Your hair was black and curly; I combed it.

Photos courtesy of Susan Unterberg (unless otherwise noted).