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We cannot call it important,
a scattering of petals onto a table
after a week in my room.

Yet it seems a beginning to all sadnesses,
frailty, and going away.

I had become fond of these orange poppies
and their disintegration
forces me to face inevitable endings and renunciations
of all seasons,
of all the sunlit fields I ever saw,
of all brightnesses, persons, myself.

One by one, bits of crepe
fall onto the table,
each still vivid orange.

Stems remain
with corollas of stamens
around pods of undeveloped seeds,
but the flowers, so enjoyed, are finished,
and it all must be swept up and thrown away.

— Edith Shiffert

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