Poetry I


The Beauty Seekers

For Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

You were born without luck,

which is to say without gold in your mouth:

As withered as a prune,

as rank as the river Hudson,

as repelling as the slime of okra, you’d say.

You were born, but that’s not enough.

You ought to be able to stop here,

but one must learn of beauty,

learn what transcends humanity,

learn how blood flows with purpose.

One must see night;

afterwards one can realize day.

We must listen lightly

to the animal within;

must glide like a sleepwalker

above the porch.

We must extract all of our body

from the devil’s mouth.

Mundane stuff, you’d say, but I say

we must live a little:

Extinguish burning matches in our hands;

offer an enemy the fractured narrative

of our lives.

We must be free to once hear

the lock twist in our hearts.

After all that you are free

to caress leaves, gravel,

thunder, gnats that complicate the air.

Even in a phone booth beauty

can spill from the directory,

and we must open the covers

and mend its flowers.



I’m afraid to stand in this forest,

To interrupt silence,

Or smudge hoofprints

Photographed on the turf.

A surge of birds enters the ritual.

I hide myself

Beneath the blanket

Of their chants.


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