Lucifer Harps on Beauty

by Brad Crenshaw

As we know, the world is fucking magical.
Let’s say one night coming
home late the way it’s always been
after a gig playing bass, standup
bass, which itself is a talent worth
having even before the literary
critic in his beers tipped you big,
say coming home in your van you’re pleased
with yourself as the crystal lattices of flashing
galaxies are in your eyes through
the windshield, wheeling slowly in
the huge, generous revelation of
materials before you. Absolutely
beautiful, you’re thinking, fucking gorgeous
as you text an image to your lady
friend, and then, distracted, at a decent
speed, you plow into your neighbor’s bitchy
kid who couldn’t sleep, and stepped into
the street untimely, so her perfect body
rises up, and falls into the complicated
glory of the still living. Her silks
are ripped, her young woman’s chest spills
out into the nurse’s gaze. The surgeon’s
practiced hands are opening the envelope
that otherwise holds out of common
view the armatures supporting her outward
properties. Not everyone can bear
to look inside and find divine forms
organizing how she works, but honestly
I never tire of watching this, the fit
of chemistry, the clockwork timing
of her cells to regulate her health,
her sleep, to reproduce, to move around
the shit of her vitality. I’m happy
when all systems click, large and small.
Proteins fold, unfold, and from an unseen
distance make repairs in your relationship
in later years, once you’ve had your stroke
and notice, as she limps into the room
to recommence your language therapy,
how the wanton blue of violets, blue
whales, blue of virgin roses, the opera
mauve of oceans are forever out
of reach of words. She records her expert
sympathies, whereas you are inarticulate
and lacking half your motor function, roughly,
in your upper half, but standing cloddish
these days at your bass, you’re bowing
madly in the long hallway leading
upward into inspiration. Mercy.
Brittle as they often are, starfish
simply will regenerate a crippled
limb. I like that mental image. Little
of importance is at risk this way,
nothing worth losing your shit over.
On this June evening at the beach,
the ocean fog contaminates the air
around me where I smooth my towel, and sit
pleasantly for a while amid profane
abundance. It’s my time to show up.
I expect the usual things. Sea
gulls screech and battle for digestibles.
Fellow pelicans are circling
on extended wings, then make in sequence
each a break-neck dive. The sky
is full of flying spray. I can afford
to wait. My favorite leggy nude in the medium
distance limps into undulations
foaming at her ankles. Descending now,
the source of light behind her spangles numinous
in code, in strings of noted symbols, rings
and fields, wherein properly she’s real.

Brad Crenshaw has authored 5 poetry collections, including My Gargantuan Desire and Genealogies. His most recent book, Memphis Shoals, will be published in February 2022. He has recently published literary essays on Aracelis Girmay and Ross Gay. Find him at Blue Islands, Blue as Ink.