Abigail Carroll

In Issue 5 on March 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Apology for Beauty

Regard the curled black needle
of the butterfly’s tongue, the thin
plunge of it into the orange nub
of the flower-head, precise
and machine-like. Consider

the purple clot of echinecea,
its deep, groundward swoon.
Some specimens refuse:
they are thick-stemmed and rebellious,
protest, press toward the blue haze
of an impossible sky. Observe

the green water pipe, cylinder of rust
protruding from the sun-bleached
mulch: dilapidated monument
to a fountained retreat. Imagine
the cool, grey mist. Examine

the astilbes: pointed red swath,
tall and heatherish: gothic cathedrals
worshipped by bees. Behind them,
the naked stump of a tree curves
to the height of a man. Inspect

the delicate pose of the monarch,
its spider-like antennae, the two
shivering panels of its animal-wings,
untouchable as light: twin concessions
to death, to elegance.


Abigail Carroll has published prose in the New York Times, Winterthur Portfolio, and the Journal of Food, Culture and Society and is currently writing a popular history of the American meal for Basic Books. She lives in Middlebury, Vermont, where she is a member of the Spring Street Poets.

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