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The Beautiful

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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)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Beautiful

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