Mary Petrosky
Bearded Irises

Not squatting to thin them
with a trowel, she stands,
uproots them with a spade, slices
through the rhizomes' white meat,

the stiff green blades. Mother works
methodically down the side alley
digging and discarding the not yet
bloomed-off irises she's grown

tired of. I stand eye to eye with the last
few, unsure how their beauty has failed,
whether crowding habit or unruly leaves
pushed them out of favor, too young

to know about capacity, its limits, my fingers
petting the fuzzy yellow tufts, tugging
violet petals as I might the cat's ears but
urgently, my mother's shovel approaching.

Shirley Novak: "Bearded Iris Colony"
(Detail; click for complete image.)