Digging in the Iris

Wooded fibers fine as cornsilk
Weave through these iris husks
I'm handling.
None passed away—they died
here in the sun-warmed earth
I dig in.

Transplanted crowded colors
that my neighbor tried to trash
for clashing rowdy
with her roses:
I, fierce salvager,
knew a sudden need.

I need their laughing panting
furred-gold faces, their silent
swiftly sworded leaves.
I need especially their bulbs:
whited grotesque undergrowth,
their ugly turnip tubers kin to 
megalomanic tumor X'ed, irradiated,
above left ear, that re-invading
burst my father's brain.

I gently pry, then rip them, tear.
Sorrowing, I excise each from the other
in their cleaving,
ever-widening bed.
Resistant, slowly yielding,
stunted things stubborn in the soil.

I yearly need to bury fibrous tubers:
in an exercise of meager faith
I will us both to bloom.


Caroline P.M. West is a senior majoring in English from American Fork, Utah. She has been published in BYU Today and Exponent II.

Annie

by Lance Larsen

He drove a battered Desoto
and apologized for nothing.
He was married, no children,
though his wife was hopeful.                                                                                                     She had a lived-in look-
clean and comfortable, nothing frumpy.
On breaks when the boys and I talked
of the perfect woman,
a Helen smelling of saffron,
we were really thinking of Annie .
She didn’t have a Gucci smile
or French cut ears,
and her hair was much too quiet.
But her eyes-exuding passion
so wholesome we were embarrassed
to talk about it.
I yearned for someone like her
to tap my shoulder
and climb into my life.

When her husband died
we calculated how long we should wait,
took bets on who would get to her first.
Then she disappeared.                                                                                                                She came back married-
some Phil from Tucson                                                                                                         whom she met playing Bingo
at an Elks convention,
three kids in four years,
a job at the quarry for Phil,
their oldest son already looking like Adonis.
And though we are sure
she has stretch marks and scars
that crisscross her like rivers,
we still go home at night
and kneel on cold sheets, praying
for a miracle: a loose stone
to fall on Phil’s head.

Upon Seeing the Mona Lisa

by Sally Taylor

Steaming crowds kept us from her famous smile-
And glass barriers, and uniformed guards who stood                                                      Bored, yet cautious. But we saw her lidded eyes
Softly following us wherever we moved.

The people shuffled, milled, and clustered. We tried
To edge closer to see her madonna mood
In ancient paint, tried to see the fine
Strokes, the lost satisfaction of a love.

A flight down , burly tourists blocked the stairs.
A thick-necked teenage son yelled at the closed
Restroom door for his mother to “hurry up!”

We slipped past, excusing ourselves. They stared
And snarled. Down the hall, Winged Victory rose
With dirt-blackened feet vulgar hands had touched.

Sally Taylor is Coordinator of Composition at BYU. She has published her poetry in the Cumberland Review, in the DeKalab Literary Arts Journal, and in other literary journals. She has also published a book of poetry, A Little Light at the Edge of Day.

Copper Basin

by Jim Papworth

The Muldoon Creek Road bounces us
across its knuckles
as we intrude;
it wants to jar our memories.

Clouds like dingy sheep
drizzle their holdings
into August,
spraying the land with contempt.

A herd of mosquitoes chokes the air,
ricochets its whine
off quaking asp,
searches the poke of skin.

The copper mine on Whitney Butte
closed-ochre tailings
rattle the hills
with whisperings of clutched ore .

Sage coughs its musk into summer
and stains the basin gray;
roots crawl below,
hoarding the valley’s meagerness.

Like a hungry cat in winter
the land clamps dead calves                                                                                                          in stingy jaws-
next year’s teeth , bones, and bits of fur.

Willowwalls guard native brookies,
whose variegated bodies
feed streams
with translucent fear in shadows.