Spring 2015, Volume 18

Poetry by Joan McLean


I am not fooled by the irises
simpering like school girls in the garden,
scenting the bare morning light with anise.
I am not fooled.
Those hussy ruffles, those cat house colors.
Shame! Shame on the irises.
When the sun slides its warm fingers
among their sepals, they may startle at first,
releasing the rainy drops that seal their petals.
But Iíve seen— Oh! I have seen— the irises
lean into the bumble beesí urgent thrusting,
seen their stigmas rise to receive the intrusion.
And itís not just the wind— No! It is not—
when they shudder and fall back.

But Itís Been Too Long

Recently Iíve noticed the whirling
has slowed enough that I can see
what was happening back then

          passing you
          in the kitchen, avoiding your eyes

          not touching your hand
          lying still and lovely by your plate.

But itís been too long, and I can
no longer conjure the speed and dizziness
that ripped me away from you.

Maybe the weight of age brakes time.
Maybe age drags its horny feet so that now
I can hold these things for a moment

          the pull of cloth across your clavicle
          the break and timbre of your voice

But itís been way too long
to speak of this now.




Joan McLean is an ecologist who lives, works and writes in Silk Hope, North Carolina. She holds degrees in Botany from UNC - Chapel Hill and in Wetland Ecology from Duke University. She is the winner of the New Millennium Writings 2014 Prize for Poetry, and her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in
Via Regia, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Spillway Magazine.