The Intellect of Women

"The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life or of the work"
--Yeats, "The Choice"

The intellect of woman must not choose
perfection of the life, or of the work.
Perfection has a diamond for a muse
who scratches where she only needs to look.

And yet the intellect of woman fears
for imperfection's grandeur, in the sharp
delight that breaks her hearing through her ears,
the edge that cuts her vision through the dark.

So the intellect of woman will not mind
the sight of where the diamond's edge has moved.
Perfection's habit opens us to find
cuts in a window we have never loved.


Easing the land into one long-plotted scene,
we stroke grass into piles with the rake.
Earth's face goes quiet, moved to a docile green
tinge blushed for other eyes, not for our sake.
Harrow the lawn, pack leaves of grass to loam,
flatten the seed-tall walls that would twist and sigh
around us, carve down the rooted caves that foam
with causeless silence, kill the lace-long sky.
Why harvest a grain whose worth is to remain
and ignore the seeds, leaving the yield unkept,
trudging lost kernels to such empty gain?
Won't we have reaped until we've stopped and swept
all the harvest away? Must we stand to see
our plain land lie with hands open, and empty?

Both poems first published in Calendars, Tupelo Press, 2003.

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