Peter Pereira

Magnolia Blossom


Who knew so many shades of white
could exist in one blossom?
Popcorn and sourdough,
bleached jean and sand.
All the satiny tones of wedding dress
and mayonnaise, cuticle and tusk.
And rising from the dizzying
whirl of snowy petals
a swollen, clitoral seed tower
all bread fruit and ivory,
sticky as shredded coconut.
They say white is not absence
of color, but its fullness.
A painter’s box laden with pearl necklace,
cigarette smoke, bone china, milk.
Cloudbank and table linen,
oyster shell, starlight.


Peter Pereira is a physician, a poet, and the founder of Floating Bridge Press. His poetry collections include Saying the World (winner of the Hayden Carruth Prize and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award) and What’s Written on the Body, both published by Copper Canyon Press.  His work has been included in many anthologies, including Best American Poetry and To Come to Light: Perspectives on Chronic Illness in Modern Literature.

“Magnolia Blossom” is an ekphrastic poem based on a photo of the same name by Imogen Cunningham.