Carol Frith
Japanese Azalea

Two or three steps into the light: you and I
are counting the gardens on Cutter Way.
We have both had too much wine.

You collect gardens—for the memory's eye.
Bartram's meadow, where I waited,
two or three steps out of the light,

while you catalogued the poppies and the
Sweetspire. I remember the composites—
common daisies. We picnicked with Merlot.

Today on Cutter, Bermuda competes with
baby's tears, and everybody raises azaleas,
hybrid pinkshells started in the open light—

imports, crossbred exotics, though you remind me
Bartram had a native species in his after-garden.
The daylight wobbles—too much wine.

You find a Koromo Shikibu, a Japanese azalea,
each petal narrow as a calfskin whip. I take a step
beyond the shade, counting tiny ornamental pinks,
each whiplet soft as flesh and leaking burgundy.