In praise of petunias


In praise of petunias

The violet white
           and pink flowers
of the petunia
           a hardy plant from
the tobacco

the roots of its name

from the tupi-guarani
           language of Brazil
in which pety signifies

it reached Europe

           in the mid-16th century
whence petun
           an old French word
for tobacco

its unassuming beauty
           rises up
through the light
           into the air

its powerful scent
was believed
to ward off
evil spirits

John Lyons

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