"Grammar" by Tony Hoagland
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,
we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
Does this really need to be discussed? More than the sheer perfection of the last ten lines is the overwhelming underscore of bitterness. Bitterness blinded by beauty. Oh, Lord. And there it is. God knows I've tried to start a fire, maybe made a few little sparks, ignited a miniscule flame from time to time, but now it is burning within me. Now, I have to move or else I won't move ever again. Now is the time for a plan.