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DUNN, Stephen


A state you must dare not enter

with hopes of staying,

quicksand in the marshes, and all

the roads leading to a castle

that doesn't exist.

But there it is, as promised,

with its perfect bridge above

the crocodiles,

and its doors forever open.

Beautiful Women

More things come to them,

and they have more to hide.

All around them: mirror, eyes.

In any case

they are different from other women

and like great athletes have trouble

making friends, and trusting a world

quick to praise.

I admit without shame

I’m talking about superficial beauty,

the beauty unmistakable

to the honest eye, which causes

some of us to pivot and to dream,

to tremble before we dial.

Intelligence warmed by generosity

is inner beauty, and what’s worse

some physically beautiful woman have it,

and we have to be strapped and handcuffed

to the mast, or be ruined.

But I don’t want to talk of inner beauty,

it’s the correct way to talk

and I’d feel too good

about myself, like a parishioner.

Now, in fact,

I feel like I’m talking

to a strange beautiful woman at a bar, I’m

animated, I’m wearing that little fixed

smile, I might say anything at all.

Still, it’s better to treat a beautiful woman

as if she were normal, one of many.

She’ll be impressed that you’re unimpressed,

might start to lean your way.

This is especially true if she has aged

into beauty, for she will have learned

the sweet gestures one learns

in a lifetime of seeking love.

Lucky is the lover of such a woman

and lucky the woman herself.

Beautiful woman who’ve been beautiful girls

are often in some tower of themselves

waiting for us to make the long climb.

But let us have sympathy for the loneliness

of beautiful women.

Let us have no contempt for their

immense privilege, or for the fact

that they never can be wholly ours.

It is not astonishing

when the scared little girl in all of them

says here I am, or when they weep.

But we are always astonished by what

beautiful women do.

“Boxers punch harder when women are around,”

Kenneth Patchen said. Think what happens

when beautiful women are around.

We do not question

that a thousand ships were launched.

In the eye of the beholder? A platitude.

A beautiful woman enters a room,

and everyone beholds. Geography changes.

We watch her everywhere she goes.