Irises

Who knows why I called you that Saturday
at the sight of them stacked in the gutter
like stalks of corn, or why after thirty years
he chose to tear them away from the picket fence
and set them there in the August sun,

why you understood I could not let them
lie there for days until the garbage truck came,
having seen their blossoms,
delicate as rice paper, unfold each spring,

or why you told me to wrap them in wet rags
and bring them home, where you transplanted them
in a bed beside the stone steps
where they blossom now,
though both he and the house are gone,

or why, that Saturday, nine months before his death,
I felt the need for something,
those innocuous white blossoms frail as his breath,
something from that broken house
each spring to bloom on.