By Claire Schwartz
You learn to recognize beauty by its frame.
In the gilded hall, in the gilded frame, her milky neck
extended as she peers over the drawn bath. A target,
a study, a lesson: she requires you
to be beautiful. You should save her, no matter the price.
No matter the price, the Collector will take it. His collection makes him
good, when he lends the woman’s image
to the museum, where schoolchildren stand
before it, anointed with lessons in color and feeling. Pay
attention, the teacher scolds the fidgeter in back. Bad,
the child whose movement calls to her own beauty, the child
whose wails insist his mother is most beautiful of all. Eyes this way,
the teacher syrups. All that grows, rots. Good little stillnesses,
guardians-to-be. If you are good, one day
an embossed invitation will arrive at the door of the house
you own. You will sit next to the Collector, light
chattering along the chandeliers, your napkin shaped like a swan.
To protect your silk, you snap its neck with flourish. The blood, beautiful,
reddening your cheeks as you slip into the chair drawn just for you. Sit, the
to the patron. Stand, to the guard. The guard shifts on blistered feet. She
she loves you not. The children pluck the daisy bald,
discard their little suns in the gutter.
Source: Poetry (December 2019)
More Poems about Activities
I come home,
feet about to bleed
from angry stomping.
“Boy!” says Mom.
“Quit making all that racket.”
But what does she expect
when, day after day,
haters sling words at me
like jagged stones
designed to split my skin?
I retreat to my room,
collapse on the bed,
count, “One. Two....
Nowhere Else to Go
Turn off the lights.
Wear another layer.
(Sounds like a dad.)
(Sounds like a mom.)
You say hand-me-down.
I say retro.
Walk some more.
(See what I did there,
Your name in Sharpie
on a good water bottle.
Backpack. New habits.
No thanks, don’t need a bag.
Tell ten friends
More Poems about Arts & Sciences
The Last Word
I am a door of metaphor
waiting to be opened.
You’ll find no lock, no key.
All are free to enter, at will.
Simply step over the threshold.
Remember to dress for travel, though.
Visitors have been known
to get carried away.Illustration by Shadra Strickland
The Racist Bone
I know this is a real thing, because
When I was a kid, my big sister took me
To the Capitol Theater, in my hometown
Of Rochester, NY,
And there was a movie that afternoon,
The Tingler, which starred Vincent Price,
And what I remember best...
More Poems about Religion
Wake up, greet the sun, and pray.
Burn cedar, sweet grass, sage—
sacred herbs to honor the lives we’ve been given,
for we have been gifted these ways since the beginning of time.
Remember, when you step into the arena of your life,
For the Feral Splendor That Remains
sometimes I strain