Literary Orphans

Peony Red by Holly Walrath


Looking out into the light of the

window framing the kitchen sink


she plunges her hands into

the soapy water – oranges.


The feathering suds on the tension

surface – little delirious delicacies.


Her hands are soft and diminishing,

becoming like the petals of the peony

or lace paper – gold leaf.


Outside – neighborhood children

walk in the tree line over the river.


The one little one – a china plate

impossibly tender white face

with low blue eyes rolling

on it like bright coat buttons.


If she were to touch that bending

head – peony red – oh what then?


Yesterday in the low white stone

walled garden, knees in the mud,

she shaved each bud and saved

the roots of the red bouquet.


Today, hours after the sin,

the peony tea consumed,

the deed done and easily,

the boy dead in the water.

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Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry has appeared in Literary Orphans, Abyss & Apex, Zetetic Record, and Vine Leaves, among others. She is a freelance editor and the associate director of Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. She currently resides in Seabrook, Texas. Find her online @HollyLynWalrath or


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–Art by Kaia Pieters

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