Irises

Before a certain bridge I cross each night —
my eyes are bent downward so as to miss
who does or doesn’t come to that window —
I study a cottage’s garden plot.
I have never known who lives here,
but have grown to know that militant line
of soldier irises in purple plumes,
their wind-rumpled hoods on defiant spear-ends,
the constant bulbs as certain as sunrise.

By day the flowers welcomed visitors —
hived bees and humming, brazen dragonflies,
by day they shamed the variable sky.
(By day I see that, in your nearby loft, 
your
windows darken,
concealing your presence or your absence.
Only your door mouth, opening and closing,
admitting and ejecting visitors,
confirms to me that you are tenant still.
Your lovers’ faces smite me with smiling;
in their dejection I recall my pain.)

On moonless nights I man the silent bridge,
brood on the madness of water lilies
that choke up the swelling, algae’d outlet.
I peer over the dam-edge precipice
at the shallow, tamed creek bed far below.

Beneath the lit and curtained windows
of your unsuspecting neighbor,
the irises stand guard like sentinels,
dark eyes awatch beneath those still petals,
the hidden golden stamens scolding me,
the patient bulbs oblivious to love,
serene as Buddhas, requiring nothing.

Within your casements,
above the dim-dark bookstore,
a galaxy stirs,
a sphere of light in a candle centered,
then other spheres, then moving silhouettes.
One is your cameo, then you are lit.
Moving to music now, your arms might close
around another’s neck. Your visitor
eclipses you, his night enfolding you,
your ivory breast his evening star,
his your heartbeat till morning’s dim crescent.
(O double Venus, which of you is true?)

Lights out, all but the streetlamps,
I turn back to my sleeping irises,
black blooms in owl-watch, consoling friars.
All day you give me eyes-alms blossoming;
all night you silently companion me,
never mocking this madness of loving,
dying of perfect beauty, and alone.

Note: The One for and about whom this poem was written is dead now. The summer nights depicted here live on.

Comments

  1. Brilliant, Brett. But when is your work anything other than?

    ". . .the patient bulbs oblivious to love,
    serene as Buddhas,"

    When I read a line like that and wish I'd written it, I know I've been transformed.

    ReplyDelete

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