The Beautiful

Lyre Sponge (Chondrocladia lyra)

The caption reads Dangerous beauty
this candelabra of the deep, carnivore waving
five taper-studded vanes the color of putty,

tips the color of tallow: but was there ever
any beauty not dangerous? How to refuse what has
that singular capacity to swing not only lever

but floodgates open, disarm, send shock
after shock of electric feeling straight from
hapless nerve-endings to the brain? Luck

has nothing to do with it, not choice, mere
circumstance. Some things cannot help being
what they are— And as for the leer

of the closed door, the signs that say No
Entry Allowed
or Members Only: I was raised
to believe not only the beautiful can live on

Parnassus— For don’t the birds, unstoppable, traffic
through the valleys, don’t the trails lead from the depths
to the crests of hills where the clouds are thickest?


In response to small stone (243).

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