Sissinghurst – by Kelly Samuels

You will be asked to walk out among
the blooms after your supper and deadhead

the roses. This your payment,
your token, gesture.

You’ll be told to mind the thorns,
but not how the spent blossoms drop

not brittle and light like
the hydrangea – the hydrangea

your mother would cut back each fall,
its flowerheads tumbling across the lawn.

You’ll be instructed to travel from the top
to where five leaves are found, and there,

only there, make your cut, if, too,
the stem faces outward, not in, never in.

We do not want the blind wood nor the inner
facing flower that will busy the center and not leave

it open to breathe and flourish. Lastly,
the cut must be at this particular angle –

a motion made with hand
as if to silence someone somewhere.

All this you listen to, waiting,
with your silver scissors

as the light begins to bank and catch on
the panes of glass in the doors you will step

through to do this small thing
just so.

Kelly R. Samuels is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of Words Some of Us Rarely Use (Unsolicited Press, 2019) and Zeena / Zenobia Speaks (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Salt Hill, The Carolina Quarterly, Sweet Tree Review, Permafrost, Heron Tree, and SWWIM. She lives in the upper Midwest.

Art: on being + blossoming, digital illustration over photograph, 2018
Artist Statement: I loved the message of this poem — the way that giving our full attention to a thing translates not only to the caring of the thing but also to the caring of ourselves.