The Dozen White Irises
Parchment-colored with fine lines,
they age instead of opening.
The one bud that tried to bloom
stopped halfway, a yellow stripe
where the anther left a trace.
The others pucker like fingertips.
They whisper among themselves,
This is all we get, our throats
won’t grow translucent in this light,
the white flame we might have raised
is only an inward wintering.