2 posts tagged beauty
When we were children, we traced our knees,
shins, and elbows for the slightest hint of wound,
searched them for any sad red-blue scab marking us
both victim and survivor.
All this before we knew that some wounds can’t heal,
before we knew the jagged scars of Great-Grandmother’s
amputated legs, the way a rock can split a man’s head
open to its red syrup, like a watermelon, the way a brother
can pick at his skin for snakes and spiders only he can see.
Maybe you have grown out of yours—
maybe you no longer haul those wounds with you
onto every bus, through the side streets of a new town,
maybe you have never set them rocking in the lamplight
on a nightstand beside a stranger’s bed, carrying your hurts
like two cracked pomegranates, because you haven’t learned
to see the beauty of a busted fruit, the bright stain it will leave
on your lips, the way it will make people want to kiss you.
This poem is from Natalie Diaz’s collection When My Brother Was an Aztec, and many of the poems deal with the wounds that we carry, whether these wounds are from our family, our loves, our mistakes, our triumphs, and I really like the way the poems work to show how our wounds are universal. The circumstances and finite details vary, but in the end, we all know hurt, happiness, love, and loss. Diaz tackles several different wounds in her poems: her heritage as a Mojave Indian, her brother’s struggles with addictions, and falling in love. These experiences are specific to her, but we can relate to her because of the way she writes about them.
In this particular poem, I feel like the pain is balanced well with the imagery of fruit. I don’t think she used fruit to lighten the poem, but the watermelon and the pomegranate are easy enough to picture in our minds. There’s a lot of wisdom in the line “All this before we knew that some wounds can’t heal.” Yes, we all learn this at some point. She says, “Maybe you have grown out of yours—” and maybe your wounds have healed, or maybe you don’t quite understand that our wounds are part of us and they never fully go away. Our wounds are what draw people to us. I love the ending, “because you haven’t learned/to see the beauty of a busted fruit, the bright stain it will leave/on your lips, the way it will make people want to kiss you.” I wish more people realized that our imperfections are beautiful and that it’s not the end of the world to realize we are all broken.
The room is red, like ourselves
On the inside. We enter
And my heart ticks out its tune
Of soon, soon. I kneel
On the bed and wait. The silence
Behind me is you, shallow breaths
That rustle nothing. This will last.
I grip the sheets, telling time
To get lost. I close my eyes
So the red is darker now, deep,
A willed distance that backs away
The faster we approach.
I dream a little plot of land and six
Kid goats. Every night it rains.
Every morning sun breaks through
And the earth is firm again under our feet.
I am writing this so it will stay true.
Go for a while into your life,
But meet me come dusk
At a bar where music sweeps outs
From a jukebox choked with ragged bills.
We’ll wander back barefoot at night,
Carrying our shoes to save them
From the rain. We’ll laugh
To remember all the things
That slaughtered us a lifetime ago,
And at the silly goats, greedy for anything
Soft enough to crack between their teeth.
—Tracy K. Smith
I posted this poem from Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, simply because I think it’s beautiful poem. R and I started this blog because we love poetry and sometimes I just don’t have a whole lot to say about a poem I love. I almost posted Smith’s poem “The Good Life” because I thought I would have more to say about it, and I might post it later, but for now I want to let this poem marinate with you, especially the lines “I grip the sheets, telling time,” “To get lost. I close my eyes,” and “that slaughtered us a lifetime ago.” Gorgeous. And if you’re curious, you can read an interview with Smith featured on The Rumpus.