By David St. John
Vivian St. John (1981-1974)
There is a train inside this iris:
You think I'm crazy, & like to say boyish
& outrageous things. No, there is
A train inside this iris.
It's a child's finger bearded in black banners.
A single window like a child's nail,
A darkened porthole lit by the white, angular face
Of an old woman, or perhaps the boy beside her in the stuffy,
Hot compartment. Her hair is silver, & sweeps
Back off her forehead, onto her cold and bruised shoulders.
The prairies fail along Chicago. Past the five
Lakes. Into the black woods of her New York; & as I bend
Close above the iris, I see the train
Drive deep into the damp heart of its stem, & the gravel
Of the garden path
Cracks under my feet as I walk this long corridor
Of elms, arched
Like the ceiling of a French railway pier where a boy
With pale curls holding
A fresh iris is waving goodbye to a grandmother, gazing
A long time
Into the flower, as if he were looking some great
Distance, or down an empty garden path & he believes a man
Is walking toward him, working
Dull shears in one hand; & now believe me: The train
Is gone. The old woman is dead, & the boy. The iris curls,
On its stalk, in the shade
Of those elms: Where something like the icy & bitter fragrance
In the wake of a woman who's just swept past you on her way
& you remain.
I don't have much to report from my day, other than work and politics as usual and unseasonably gorgeous weather, again -- not that I am complaining about the latter -- and several loads of laundry that must be folded tomorrow. The high point of my day was walking in Cabin John Park while younger son was at tennis, during which hike I was greeted enthusiastically by four dogs (they're supposed to be leashed, but few in the park listen)...one wanted to lick my hands, one wanted to follow me instead of his owner, one wanted to grab the wire for my headphones and run off with it, and one jumped up and nearly knocked me over while his owner shouted, "NO POUNCING!" So my exercise was erratic but I have been very well sniffed indeed.
We had veggie jambalaya for Mardi Gras dinner. Evening TV included Glee, which I was appreciating until Regionals and its songs started; Ringer, which was something of a letdown -- I thought they were building up to a much more direct reason for the rift between the sisters and thought they chickened out; and the Kamchatka episode of Wild Russia on Animal Planet, which was fascinating and I love that unlike a lot of nature documentaries, Animal Planet's tend to cut away before one animal eats another. Here are some flowers from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens: