Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Marilyn Nelson


Beauty is the vocation 
of the earth.  
	                         -William Bryant Logan

God's breath on a compound of silica,
alumina and various oxides--
primarily iron-gave Adam life.
There is a primal, almost mystical
connection between humankind and clay,
from the footed, bellied first receptacles
to frescoed Renaissance cathedral walls.
To Carver's eye, the muddy creek banks say
Here to be dug up, strained and painted on,
is loveliness the poorest can afford:
azures, ochres . . . Scraps of discarded board
are landscapes.  Cabins undistinguished brown
bloom like slaves freed to struggle toward self-worth.
Beauty is commonplace, as cheap as dirt.

from Carver, A like in Poems
Front street Books, © 2001