Three sisters sitting outside:
faces shielded by sunbonnets,
dresses carefully composed. 

It is the late 1800s, a summer Sunday,
and three sisters are sitting outside
painting wildflowers

because they are Quakers—respectable
young women—and they are not allowed
to read novels on Sundays. 

The first paints a yellow clover,
the second a pink aster,
the third a strange specimen 

with pale blue flowers
and dark toothed leaves
and delicate roots exposed. 

The sun is hot. The grass prickles
through folds of linen. The air is full
of the vibration of bees. 

The sisters do not speak.
The spirit moves them, or it doesn’t.
The long afternoon slowly passes. 

Anna Murphey lives in Philadelphia, Pa.

Posted in: Poetry, September 2019


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