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Irises by Li-Young Lee

Found this while browsing the poetry section. Was waiting for S. and for a moment I forgot myself. The ride from Cavite to Makati is long; I’ve got time. We writers tend to make the bookstore our meeting place — I know, it’s so cliché. But I wonder if we ever really notice; if it’s just part of who we are. What better place to wait than a room full of books. It’s no longer waiting for the other to arrive, but waiting to be interrupted by the universe, waiting to be brought back to this world.

Li-Young Lee

In the night, in the wind, at the edge of rain,
I find five irises, and call them lovely.
As if a woman, once, lay by them awhile,
then woke, rose, went, the memory of hair
lingers on their sweet tongues.

I’d like to tear these petals with my teeth.
I’d like to investigate these hairy selves,
their beauty and indifference. They hold
their breath all their lives
and open, open.

We are not lovers, not brother and sister,
though we drift hand in hand through a hall
thrilling and burning as thought and desire
expire, and, over this dream of life,
this life of sleep, we waken dying—
violet becoming blue, growing
black, black—all that
an iris ever prays,
when it prays,
to be.

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