It is time to venture into the garden again. Each spring I try. I plant, I weed, I prune, I water … well, okay, sometimes I water. Not nearly enough, I admit. The point is, I can’t grow anything. And when things do bloom, they die prematurely. Like the lovely white and yellow tulips that popped up a week or so ago, and stood tall and elegant — for a few days — before they wearily dropped their petals. As if all that beauty was just too much work.
Despite my failures, I love to spend time with my plants. And while I don’t end up with much by way of flowers, I do end up with poems. I come into the house tired, dirt streaked across my forehead and caked in the treads of my sneakers. I drop onto the couch and I sense a poem sneaking up beside me.
Meanwhile, at the top of my garden to-do list is transplanting irises. Irises are the one plant species that is proliferating in my garden. Since they are about the only thing I can grow, I figure I should welcome them, celebrate them, invite them to spread out.
Besides being a beautiful flower, iris is a richly resonant word. Arco iris in Spanish means rainbow. The iris is the colorful halo surrounding the eye (the ‘I’). Layered with meaning, irises are perfect for planting in poems and dreams as well.
Last night I dreamed there were rows and rows of young people standing on my lawn. Each was holding a glass vase, and each vase contained a single iris. The effect was stunning.
I woke up and had to re-read Louise GlÜck’s consciousness-blasting poem “The Wild Iris”, which ends with the astonishing lines:
from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.
But today it is raining. The irises will have to wait.