Out of the stony ground of his tortured life, these iris
rise, writhe, charmed like snakes by the song of the sun.
The wild blue heart of longing moves up, up,
from papery rhizomes, common dirt. Out of nothing,
armfuls of sky. They burn, flames in a hearth, as they dance
above the pale green swords of their leaves. It’s all
or nothing, this loud shout, this wild abundance, a few short
weeks in May. On the canvas, they sing forever. The suffering
world recedes in the background. They lean to the left, pushed
by the wind, but not one stalk is bent or broken. Oh, the fierce
burning joys of this life; all the things of the world, about to vanish.
This poem first appeared in Barbara Crooker's book, Radiance (Word Press, 2005.)
Barbara Crooker is the author of many books of poetry; The Book of Kells is the most recent. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
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