Little Lion Face

May Swenson

 
Little lion face
I stopped to pick
among the mass of thick
succulent blooms, the twice
streaked flanges of your silk
sunwheel relaxed in wide
dilation, I brought inside,
placed in a vase.  Milk
of your shaggy stem
sticky on my fingers, and
your barbs hooked to my hand,
sudden stings from them
were sweet.  Now I'm bold
to touch your swollen neck,
put careful lips to slick
petals, snuff up gold
pollen in your navel cup.
Still fresh before night
I leave you, dawn's appetite
to renew our glide and suck.
An hour ahead of sun
I come to find you.  You're
twisted shut as a burr,
neck drooped unconscious,
an inert, limp bundle,
a furled cocoon, your
sun-streaked aureole
eclipsed and dun.
Strange feral flower asleep
with flame-ruff wilted,
all magic halted,
a drink I pour, steep
in the glass for your
undulant stem to suck.
Oh, lift your young neck,
open and expand to your
lover, hot light.
Gold corona, widen to sky.
I hold you lion in my eye
sunup until night.
 
From In Other Words: New Poems, by May Swenson, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1987 by the Literary Estate of May Swenson. Used by permission of the Literary Estate of May Swenson. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Blue by May Swenson
Blue, but you are Rose, too,
Earth Your Dancing Place by May Swenson
Beneath heaven's vault
Question by May Swenson
Body my house
That the Soul May Wax Plump by May Swenson
My dumpy little mother on the undertaker's slab
Water Picture by May Swenson
In the pond in the park


Further Reading

Poems about Flowers
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]
by Charles Wright
Still Another Day: I
by Pablo Neruda
A January Dandelion
by George Marion McClellan
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
a woman had placed
by Anne Blonstein
Advice to a Prophet
by Richard Wilbur
Ah! Sunflower
by William Blake
Asphodel, That Greeny Flower [excerpt]
by William Carlos Williams
Astigmatism
by Amy Lowell
At Baia
by H. D.
Blur
by Andrew Hudgins
Botanica
by Eve Alexandra
Bulb Planting Time
by Edgar Guest
Come Slowly—Eden (211)
by Emily Dickinson
Epitaph X
by Thomas Heise
Erotic Energy
by Chase Twichell
Evening Primrose
by Amy Greacen
Far and Away [excerpt]
by Fanny Howe
Follies
by Carl Sandburg
Forced Bloom
by David Baker
Four Poems for Robin
by Gary Snyder
From Blossoms
by Li-Young Lee
Girl
by Eve Alexandra
Herb Garden
by Timothy Steele
In April
by James Hearst
Iris
by David St. John
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
by John Keats
La Chalupa, the Boat
by Jean Valentine
Last Supper
by Charles Wright
Meister Eckhart's Sermon on Flowers and the Philosopher's Reply
by J. Michael Martinez
Nothing But Death
by Pablo Neruda
Nothing Stays Put
by Amy Clampitt
Nothing to Save
by D. H. Lawrence
Ode to a Flower in Casarsa
by Pier Paolo Pasolini
On Arranging a Bowl of Violets
by Grace Hazard Conkling
One Flower
by Jack Kerouac
Permanence
by Denise Duhamel
Poem
by John Gray
Poppies on the Wheat
by Helen Hunt Jackson
Practice
by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Queen-Anne's-Lace
by William Carlos Williams
Sea Rose
by H. D.
See How the Roses Burn!
by Hafiz
Shake the Superflux!
by David Lehman
Solstice
by Ellen Dudley
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
Sonnet 2
by Gwendolyn Bennett
Taken Up
by Charles Martin
The Dandelion
by Vachel Lindsay
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
by Dylan Thomas
The Gardenia
by Cornelius Eady
The Guarded Wound
by Adelaide Crapsey
The Métier of Blossoming
by Denise Levertov
The Mountain Cemetery
by Edgar Bowers
The Orchid Flower
by Sam Hamill
The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers
by Andrew Marvell
The Satyr's Heart
by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
The Violet
by Jane Taylor
The White Rose
by John Boyle O'Reilly
The Wild Honeysuckle
by Philip Freneau
To Dorothy
by Marvin Bell
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Why Regret?
by Galway Kinnell
Wildflower
by Stanley Plumly
Wildwood Flower
by Kathryn Stripling Byer
Without a Philosophy
by Elizabeth Morgan