disaster is natural

a section out of  “Summer Place” by A.R. Ammons


disaster is natural: look at my face: some concession
to gravity: I knew this lady: she did everything for
her husband: she did everything for her children:

she said, sit down to the table: she had the most
beautiful voice, I mean as to tone and range and before
breakfast cooking stuff up: now, she bubbles belching

in terror and can’t keep her tongue in: I can’t stand
pretty beauty anymore: I can’t stand any beauty that
doesn’t sit and think her the most beautiful person

living: disaster is natural: I saw the legless
ward at the VA lots of times, diabetes gangrene
amputations, old boys: each carried a bottle of urine

under his wheelchair with a tube: like gas for the
motor: and just about everyone slouched over and
slept as deep as possible: there was the young

veteran, though: he burned up the halls and
shot the corners on one wheel: he had it down to
nothing how much breeze he could make of speed: oh,

the loft is high and rid of such: up in the sways,
nobody is holding on to keep from falling out of his
bed: farther along we’ll understand why: it is not,

finally, perhaps, ingratitude: it is not, finally,
not celebration: it is that we do not understand,
now: it is that we cannot see beauty all the way

through: it is that we think we would be justified
in wanting it another way, permanent joy: a land
imagined where love would never be pulled away from

love: where mothers and fathers would know beatitude
and touch us with their unconditioned smiles: where
tenderness would be so high it would transmit

light: and love of lovers would be a continual
music, reconciliations like breeze music: the rivers would
be flowing light and trees would sway with the fruit of

light: we do not understand why a place like this
would yield out no design: then, should our beauty
be the dream of the place and have nothing to do with

actual fellows: or should our beauty find itself
somehow perfect in the harelip, the crazy fascination
of cross-eyes or in the wild song of the cancer-mad:

our beauty, our beauty: on what shoal or shelf, ledge
or cloud will it lie down, dwelling beyond rust and moth,
so beyond it will know the worm and have no cognizance


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