by Cherie Horst

It is the first of June.
There, you see it—tall, mint-coloured spikes
carrying well the swelling buds—
that’s what I brought you to see.
Last fall we had taken a bulbous, brown bulb and tucked it underground.
You had been sullen, sure that I or any dried-out bulb
could not draw you from your shell.
But even as I coaxed you to bend your stiffened knees and touch the soil,
a tear had splashed onto your twisted hand, spreading wet—
and I knew you, like the bulb, still held promise of life.
You had come again in late April
and I had dragged you out to see
the broad spikes poking up.
But you had curled your lip—as best you could—and limped away,
your dragging right leg crushing two of the aspiring shoots.
I followed you inside.

I had not shown you in middle May
the burgeoning swelling of the plants;
you had not asked, and I was a little afraid
to show the blossoming life
when you were still limping and slurring
and so weak on the right.

But today, first of June. You come
and grasp my right hand with your right.
It is a sturdy grasp, and I know it is time.
So, I bring you out and we stand by our emblem of hope.

The buds are pregnant with life,
white and purple petals peeking from the green.
I can feel the surge of hope in my heart when your hand,
shaky and stiff, cradles the bud.
You close your eyes
and I watch as you lift the right side of your mouth to smile.

It is the sixth of June.
The iris has opened.
It is more than I imagined.
It has frilly edges of deep purple—
white petals—such a change from the brown bulb.
It is the essence of hope.

I wish you were here to see it.
But only two days after we admired the buds
you slipped away.
I reach out my trembling right hand and cradle the iris,
and a tear splashes onto my hand, spreading wet.
But I know that you, like the iris, spring from the brown bulb to bloom in splendour.

Cherie Horst is young teacher who is striving to fill her days with joy and an abundance of literature, relationships, and Jesus.

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