Beauty Bark

 The idea is, it makes life easier
by giving the unwanted thing
a looser hold. Never mind
how it comes in a fifty-pound sack—
the flowers must be suffered for.
So keep humping it to them on the far side of the lawn.

Whatever it is, it is not rotten yet:
This is death caught while it still looks good
like the bird right after the window smack
or the corpse new in its casket—no odors,
no odors yet. Just a cedary smell,
never mind how the splinters make you itch.

See how the dead stuff chaperones the living,
with a brownness that makes the living look good
by not offering any competition,
like the buddy girls of school.
You’re supposed to overlook it
and not obsess on the jigsaw shapes,

not wonder where the beauty lies—
in the bark or in its other.
This isn’t one of those dancer-or-the-dance-type questions,
this isn’t Yeats.
We all know what part of the tree it comes from:
oh substance eponymous.

But I wonder what you make of us
growing crookedly out of the burial mulch:
us the brooded-by-death, the pricker-limbed, better get your leather gloves.
Good God my thorns are sharp, and my root’s so long
you can forget about screwdrivering it out.
But come August’s wilt you will praise my random flower.