Poem by Louis McKee
The perfect American Beauty Rose,
is it diminished
by the slag heaps on Rt. 11, just west
of Scranton, or by the dark cloud
that seems to have settled an inch or so
beneath the surface of Lake Naomi,
or even the swell of soot that hangs
like a troubling thought over the town
on the other side of the river?
Is the rose there any less beautiful?
Or this woman here; right now
she is standing in the impatient way
women have, a hip thrust out,
a shoulder let low? She is casual
this Sunday morning, in jeans
and a simple top, and she stands
at the top of the hill holding a cigarette
and a leash, waiting for her dog to return.
You'll have to take my word for this:
she is as lovely as any rose
you'll ever find on those long walks you take
into the mountains, and nothing about her
is diminished by the bombs that are falling
this very moment on Afghanistan, the lies
packed tight and neat into cartons
and stacked with the rest in basements,
warehouses and storage rentals
throughout Washington, the three point shot
dropping like a rock short of the basket
in the final seconds of an important moment
in someone's life. In fact, it is just the opposite:
the grays around us fade—not reduced, no,
nor chased away—but lost to the flush
beauty of the red rose, of the women,
in a moment appreciated.
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