The Irises Given to Me by a Man Who Once Grew Apples for Stalin

A poem


The irises flood the room with the scent of pebbles

filtering moonlight along the platinum river.


The state of the Big Bang in the long morning after:

dandelions littering the lawn’s leaf litter,


their veins filled with a white and bitter milk —

the stars among us. At last, it is November.


In some months, men wish their houses were built of stones

grubbed up from the fields and set in place by hand,


where they can live with children

and know nothing but the world. I rack my wine.


Summer follows gravity into sterile glass, but the words

wish they were stones that could be picked up by the hands and thrown.


At 5 pm, the flowers burn us away as they sit beside the bed, living.

We get up in the dark and stare at them in the dark,


the house like small scraps of prayer

set loose on the flood-water, leaving us.