Irises



Jo brought this to “Poets You Can’t Get Rid Of.”

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering

there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death

I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.

Then nothing. The weak sun

flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive

as consciousness

buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being

a soul and unable

to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth

bending a little. And what I took to be

birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember

passage from the other world

I tell you I speak again: whatever

returns from oblivion returns

to find a voice:

from the center of my life came

a great fountain, deep blue

shadows on azure seawater.

By Louise Glück

When I moved from the city to the country I learned that the deer eat most flowers.  I loved the deer and didn’t want to fence them out.

I discovered I had the perfect soil, light and terrain for irises. They became my passion. I planted dozens, in every color. I lived for late May, the seasonal peak—perfectly in sync with Chinese artists for whom the flowers represent”the dancing spirit of early summer.” I even went to the International Iris Festival in Florence, Italy (the iris is the city’s emblem) to see acres and acres of the colored blossoms I adored.

On the morning of my mother’s funeral I did not want to leave my house. I did not want to see my mother, dead, in a box. . I did not want to say good-bye to her, ever.

As I approached the door, I could see a family of deer waiting outside, in silence, near our car. “They’re here to help you,” Barre said. They did.

And the impossible happened:  one iris bloomed in the freezing November air.  Named “Immortality, the color of the moon, and big enough to fill my hands held together like a beggar asking for alms.  I remembered that in ancient Greece, the task of the goddess Iris was to lead the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields. That awful morning she appeared dressed in white and filled the air with a fragrance as warm as it was sweet. Thank you.

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