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Painting by Edouard Manet (1864)

Poem by Salvatore Buttaci (1994)


We play the game sometimes

of divining the alter egos

of your garden flowers:

What they resembled

on their tall green stems,

what they might have been

if only they could have decided

for themselves in the pre-garden

before they were seeds,

when God in the waiting place

held fragilely to the thought

of what they would become.


Yesterday you laid two white peonies

on the worktable and called me

from an afternoon nap, saying

"You first!

Tell me what you see!"

Groggy from interrupted sleep,

but always pleased to please you.

I study the two peonies,

the black pruning shears,

while you stand, arms folded, 



"It seems to me," I begin, then pause

long enough to tease you.

"It seems to me," I begin again,

"two lambs have taken to their

pasture sleep, where we come upon them

resting atop summer mounds of grass.


They face each other for comfort,

for safety's sake,

or perhaps to reap direct rays of sunlight.

Yes, I see two lambs."


"And the shears?  What about the shears?"

you want to know.

"What are they?  What would they have been

had they not been pruning shears?"


"They are not pruning shears today,"

I tell you, smilingly.

"While the lambs count people

leaping over tall fences,

while the lambs ease into 

a quiet peaceful sleep,

the herdsman comes with sharp clippers

and rouses them into an open-eyed

stillness and shears away their wool,

leaving them naked lambkins

trembling in the sun.


"No! No! Not fair!" you say.

"The shears cannot be shears

nor clippers!"


But when I tell you how once

we kissed and played this game

of guessing what that kiss could be,

we both swore it would stay a kiss,

not ever could it be goodbye

or whatever that kiss might have been

if the two of us had never 

come to name each other

and claim that kiss forever.




 The above poem first appeared in my book Impressions: 13 French-Painting Poems (Saddle Brook, NJ: New Worlds Unlimited), 18-21.

  Salvatore Buttaci’s two collections of flash fiction 200 Shorts and Flashing My Shorts are both published by All Things That Matter Press and are available in book and Kindle editions at

His new book If Roosters Don’t Crow, It Is Still Morning: Haiku and Other Poems  

Buttaci lives in West Virginia with Sharon, the love of his life. 








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