Peony Collector

Earlier this spring, I encouraged the students in my writing class to keep an observation notebook. As a teacher it’s often a good idea to do what you ask of your students.

Some early mornings, I run with a friend. On my way home I started a routine of pulling into a park to observe, but some days I didn’t take the time. However, I was tuned into observing, so I noticed peonies in a yard. I noticed them and descriptions popped into my mind while I was driving. I started “taking notes” with my voice activation on my phone. (It rarely works for me to wait until I get home to jot it down; I lose the turn of phrase.)

And then after some time— a poem emerged.

I kept these notes for several days; maybe a couple weeks. I am uncertain of the time frame, but the time was marked by the peonies.

Peony Collector by Kel Rohlf


Peonies that look like red, white and pink pom-poms.


Pink, white and red peony heads bowed down from the rain.


Now resting their frazzled heads on the ground.


Around another bend, disheveled fuschia peonies invite a shout of joy.

Now the peonies shed their petals like a shaggy dog.


Spent peonies, diminishing, leaving behind green foliage.


No more peonies line the path, now an empty bed; ready for summer’s rest.

An observer in action

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