Black Velvet

a black velvet petunia


Her neck rises from the white lace
necklaced with a black velvet band soft
as her pink and purple garden petunias.
Syllables of velvet from a tender perennial.
Flowers blackened by Death still blooming annually.


Emily created as a young girl (before the poetry) a herbarium in which she collected 424 flowers from the Amherst region. She called them “beautiful children of spring,” and arranged them in a 66-page large leather-bound album with labels of the common names and sometimes the official Linnaean ones. All are in her elegant handwriting. I don’ think she had a black petunia in the book, but I think she would have liked the flower.

Emily’s portrait with her black velvet band

A poem by Emily – #334

All the letters I can write
Are not fair as this—
Syllables of Velvet—
Sentences of Plush,
Depths of Ruby, undrained,
Hid, Lip, for Thee—
Play it were a Humming Bird—
And just sipped—me—