How Killer Blue Irises Spread

By Kelli Russell Agodon

—Misheard health report on NPR

The quiet ones, the flowers
the neighbors said
kept to themselves,

Iris getagunandkillus, shoots

and rhizomes reaching
beneath the fence.
The shifty ones,

Mickey Blue Iris, the tubers

that pretend to be dormant
then spread late at night into
the garden of evil and no good.

They know hell, their blue flames

fooling van Gogh, the knife
he stuck into soil before he sliced
the bulbs in three, nights

he spent painting in a mad heat.

They swell before the cut
and divide of autumn.
An entire field of tulips,

flattened. Daylilies found

like lean bodies across the path.
The wild blue iris claims
responsibility, weaves through

the gladioli, into the hothouse

where the corpse flower blooms
for a single day, its scent
of death calling to the flies.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/08/how-killer-blue-irises-spread/306040/