Into perplexity: as an itch chased round
an oxter or early man in the cave mouth
watching rain-drifts pour from beyond
his understanding. Whether to admire
the mere sensation, enough, or hold out
for sweeter ornament, vessels of wonder
born with that ur-charm of symmetry;
lovely ones we ache to prize and praise,
climb into and become because they try
our day-by-day significance: some of us
ugly and most of us plain, walked past
in the drowned streets: pearls of paste,
salted butter, secondary colors. They
drift unapproached, gazed never-selves,
blunt paragons of genetic industry. We
desire them but cannot want such order.
We stand, mouths open, and cannot help
stammering our secrets, nailed to water.
Source: Poetry (December 2008).