I want to know everything there is to know
I want to know their scientific names, their species and subspecies,
what kind of soil they like and if they come back year after year
or have to be purposefully planted each spring.
I know exactly when my fascination with petunias began.
It was the end of a long summer day.
I was sitting on the doorstep watching evening throw shadows
over the rhododendrons
when a frangrance so subtle I wondered if it was real
caught my attention.
A tall, dark purple petunia wavered between the wall and sidewalk.
I had seen these flowers before and they never meant a thing to me.
But now, this flower, who stood tall and leggy as if trying to watch
the parade of people and animals go by on the sidewalk,
and who had avoided the gardener’s pruning sheers,
revealed her power when she allowed night to fall.
Petunias grow best in ground that is
equal parts sand, silt and clay.
The way they arrange their petals so neatly
around a pistil makes them seem cultured and ladylike.
You wouldn’t know that any of them grow wild
and feed Buckeyed butterflies all summer long.
And you wouldn’t suspect that these demure little plants
who hang in baskets and window boxes
take over if they are free to grow as they please.
I dreamed that an ancient grandmother
with long, dark hair
held petunias in her hand and told me they would protect
against all kinds of ill will.
So the day after the dream I searched for the healing
properties of petunias and learned that their essence can be used
to make one’s mind keen and alert, they can lift a sagging spirit,
and help a person find her voice.
Grandmother knows it is time to speak
but for the life of me,
I don’t know what I can say that petunias have not already said.