the season’s pretty much over, they say

you’ve missed the best of them

undaunted ever hopeful we head south past

the milk factories unclotting the cream, belching

fresh-baked clouds into the sky

over wasted rivers bone-bleached in their stony beds

taking our turn to shimmy over single strands of bridge

spitting cherrystones out the window

counting miles and singing off-key


they won’t be much good now, they say

you should have come last week

still we drive deeper south following

the ribbon road along the ocean that

stares back at us with seaglass eyes and

chaws insolently at the edge of the land

through remnant forests whose thousand-year old trees

have forgotten more stories than were ever written

on the paper their friends were pulped into


there won’t be many left, she says

handing us the keys to bed and bath

you’ve missed the best of them as she proffers ice

but in the morning we find them, a sunset sea

of beauty, warm and fragrant in the summer sunshine

buds and flowers, seeds and stamens falling over each other

strewing petals at our feet as we in turn kneel to

breathe in deeply, caress and marvel

at the wonder that is paeonie.