THE NATURE OF BEAUTY
I can only say, there we have been;
but I cannotsay where. --T.S. Eliot
As sometimes whiteness forms in a clear sky
To represent the breezy, temporary
Nature of beauty,Early in semester they started it.
Lisa read in her rich New Jersey accent,
That mixes turnpike asphalt with fast food,
A sexy poem that mentioned "the place
Where lovers go to when their eyes are closed
And their lips smiling."
Other students grinned,
Thinking perhaps of the back seats of Hondas.
Instead of explaining "place" as a figure of speech,
The teacher wanted them to crystallize
Around it as around the seed of a cloud.
You all understand that? You understand?
The place we go to? Where we've been? They got it.
All semester they brought it back A piece at a time, like the limbs of Osiris.
Mostly from sex, for they were all American
Nineteen to twenty-one year olds
Without a lot of complicated notions.
But Doug got it from the Jersey shore,
Foam stroking his shins, his need
Leaping in fish form.
Robin One time from dancing
With a woman she didn't
Have sex with, once from her grandmother
Doing the crossword puzzle in pen.
Kindly David from a monstrous orange bus
Whose driver amazed him by kindliness
To passengers who were poor and demented.
Dylan from a Baptist church when song
Blent him into its congregation, sucked him
Into God, for a sanctified quarter hour,
"There's no separation at that height,"
Before it dropped him like Leda back to earth
And the perplexity of being white. The vapor of the word collects,
Becomes cloud, pours itself out,
Almost before you think: the small
Rain down can rain.
A brief raid on the inarticulate
Is what we get, and in retreat we cannot
Tell where we've really been; much less remain.