Our gray guide is still incredulous.
"They shelled Dubrovnik!
Dubrovniks have no fights with nobody.
Croats and Serbs always lived here together."
Did he go gray when the war came down?
Shells from the hills and mountains?
Which grayed first?
His hair? Mustache?
His skin? His clothes?
I am incredulous, too.
I see purple irises growing wild.
"Who transplanted them?" I think.
"Who divided the bulbs?"
The guide talks on,
musing to himself.
"They shell from mountains.
They killing mostly children and young.
Why would they shell Dubrovnik?
It is UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The world become angry with them.
How do you say it?
They shoot themselves in foot.
The world took up our case."
It is spring's eve.
Lavender, Scottish Broom,
tiny yellow flowers just beginning to re-bloom.
I look for more irises growing wild.
Every clod of space in hilly, boulderous yards
gives itself to grapes' brown roots,
vegetables, potatoes mostly,
no space for flowers.
The soil, rich and brown,
has been brought in,
tilled and turned.
"Such a shame," the guide is saying.
"The Communists taught us
not to be self-reliant."
"Emerson," I think.
"Emerson and purple irises."
"Our youth will not plow and plant our earth.
We could have agriculture
as our pride, our mainstay.
We would not have to plead
with tourists to return.
But our youth flock to cities,
claim they cannot find the jobs,
will not take the jobs finding them.
The government is about to stop
paying them to be unemployed.
What will they do then? What will Dubrovnik do?"
I re-write Whitman.
"'When irises last in the courtyard bloomed.'
Do irises spoil prosody?" I ponder.
Our gray guide moroses on.
"I think, no matter what they claim,
Montenegro wanted us Dubrovniks.
Dubrovnik is the whole of Croatia's crown jewel.
Here is where the tourists come.
We would be good taking."
I imagine I see an iris
breaking gray, granitic ground.
Something like a crocus.
The hills are alive with the sound of...
irises pushing out.
We reach the fork,
turn left away from Montenegro.
"We let in few
across Montenegro's border now.
They crossed to our side
pretending to be tourists like you.
Then they take out guns, shoot us down."
I wish he'd commented on the irises.
Their tuberous roots.
Their green-sword leaves.
Their flowers—small in Dubrovnik
but all purple.