Today's poem is by Michelle Detorie

An Overrated Virtue

Grace is our own invention—not a mimicry
of nature as my aunt would have preferred me
to believe. Not all streams are peaceful. Clay
can be toxic. The cactus stings. These things,
when I was young, were revelations.
When my father began scraping paint
from the prehistoric wood siding at the back
of the house, my aunt came down
to mind me. The exposed eyes
staring out of that wood startled me.
In the hot sun, my father
painted those eyes shut—paint
streaking out from under the brush—drying
in the August heat. It took several coats
to cover the gaze. To shield us from
what I now knew was always there.
Meanwhile, each blade of grass
in our backyard whispered the secrets
of their former lives to me—how rivers
filled with turtles beneath a full moon—how fire
danced below. Often, in an attempt
to make sure I obeyed her, my aunt
tapped at the guest room window—the tree tops
shaking in the shuddering glase—her two
narrow eyes peering down through the branches.
There are eyes that open
and eyes that never close.

Copyright © 2004 Michelle Detorie All rights reserved
from Chelsea
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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