We have opinions about beauty,
whether something should be even
or jagged, or if a strangeness needs
to be in it. I haven’t preferred
the kind of beauty that’s lush, and I’m glad
the Bohemian thing never appealed
to me, people earnestly trying
to be artistic and bored with the world.
How in the world could the world be boring?
I think beauty’s pretty important--
it’s good to have ideas about it,
knowing over time they’ll change.
And you only need a little beauty
before you notice its effects--
it has a way of lingering
and blowing the clouds out of your mind,
and pretty soon you realize
you’re on the road to happiness.
I tend to like a basic beauty,
an inherent beauty that surprises,
like a dragonfly that lights on the tip
of a tall cattail leaf
among the other cattails growing
at the edge of a still pond in summer.
I’ve heard that means a chance of rain--
but there’s a chance of everything.
This image was presented to me
today at evening time in the lush
of summer beauty, and the leaf,
so awkwardly tall and skinny, put me
in mind of a man wearing a suit
of green topped with a bow tie
and standing there, as if he had paused
to be reflective in the swale.
The dragonfly was motionless
and the sun was coming down the hill.
The man was green to his neck, but missing,
perhaps symbolically, his head.
I like a beauty that’s serene
and mired, to be admired in stillness.
I like a stream of consciousness,
but I prefer a stream of crows
crossing a paling, dusky sky,
or better still, an actual stream
and the noisy beauty of the thing.
And how the light will come down to it,
and then the dark will come down to it.
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TO READ MORE FROM MAURICE MANNING, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 51.4
MAURICE MANNING’s most recent book is One Man’s Dark. He lives with his family in Kentucky.