The Glitter of the Simple

The Glitter of the Simple

Oh, I would divide the world into binaries,
cast each earthly element to a pole⎯good
or bad⎯according to its flag:

The stonefish with its ugly mug.
Black-whiskered tarantula.
Simply by appearances
I would judge.

And likewise, disregarding
conflicting evidence,
I would crown the beautiful:
The uncanny blues and gold
of the poison dart frog.

The sacred passion flower
ringed by purple filaments,
though its cool smiles nest in leaves
of cyanide.

Then I would round the numbers up or down,
toss out their remainder,
throw out the imperfect squares,
too cumbersome to carry!

I would ignore details:
Castor oil is good
[but the beans will kill you
if you chew them].
He stole the turnips
[for he had nothing].

The responsibility of understanding
extenuating circumstance
exhausts me.

The charge of calculating dose—
so as not to wander to the dark side
of the continuum—
overwhelms me.

Both substance and creature slink
over a delicate border,
can so easily pass
from poison to antidote.

When lethal foxglove
tempers a bedeviled heart,

or the heretic pulls his body out of the mud,
climbs from ignominy to acclamation,
to be cheered by the crowd
and rise with the sun.

My animal brain
is too weary, too lazy to carry
all the infinitesimal gradations
that live within the range.
It is too much to fathom!

I would put each in an opposing corner
and discard the entire in-between.
Even life’s gravity would go away,
become as simple as melodrama—

Snidely Whiplash and Dudley Do-Right.
Cherry without a stone.
Child with no crying.

The surface iridescence of the beetle’s
wing would be everything. How clean

the world would be.
And damned.

Andrea L. Fry