Thursday, March 21, 2013

Subtle Beauty

Art: Robert Louis Caldwell (

I can respect beauty that

“See me!”

and recognize in it my own
innate desire to be noticed.

Blooming is about attraction,
and attraction is an
investment in everything
that is to unfold.

When I was a little girl,
I’d pick buttercups
because they were the
brightest, cheeriest flowers
in the seldom-mown grass.

That was some time ago.

As a woman,
I am drawn to beauty that
is more subtle,

Beauty that requires you
to really look to see a thing.

Beauty that whispers,

“Know me…”

And seeks to release us from
lingering fears of intimacy.

Today the beauty to which
I apprentice sits atop a
bloated carcass.

So many have called him
ugly and disgusting.

He’s been persecuted,
poisoned and shot
for his appearance and habits.

Where we look,

we see aspects of ourselves.

Already the blood has thickened
and the body stiffened,
and he has made the first
strategic tear in the tawny doe skin
that once held a spirit
close to the bones.

I gaze upon every inch of him:

The wrinkling of his bald, black head.
The delicate flare of unencumbered nostrils.
Feathers like pitch.
Scaled feet that remember the ancient
bloodlines and know that their place
is below broad, powerful wings.

His crop bulges, but he is not afraid
to be satiated,
and will join with others of his kind
to pick a body clean;

Sharp, nimble beaks and time
have enabled vultures to swallow
what others cannot.

And this is how it goes in these old fields:

This subtle beauty,

This dark angel on a mission,

escorting the dead,
piece by piece,
nutrient by nutrient,
into the ground
where all former lives
become caretakers of the living.

And this, to me, is beautiful.

Yes, it is true, I have found beauty

and, yes, of course, I shall go on looking for it.

I shall seek out beauty in all
the still hidden places,

All those places I have yet to
dare to go.

Though, yes, in truth,

I do already know:

It is there.

It is always there.

© 2013-2016/Jamie K. Reaser 
Published in "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems"
Gratitude to Robert Caldwell for use of the beautiful black vulture sketch. 

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  1. Dear Jamie...
    You outdo yourself with each poem you pen! This is incredible and heart-filled and and and....
    I love these elegant creatures...had a flock of them fly over my head in an incoming summer storm two summers ago...they flew in so low I could see their was moving, breathtaking, and very spiritual. They circled several times and by the time I thought to run in and get my camera, they had flown I wish I had captured that moment but to break the moment seemed unholy somehow.
    I'm going to direct others over here to read today...hope you don't mind...
    Have a Beauty Way Day Sister!

    1. Thank you, Sister...for your kindness and beingness. So glad to know that you are out there. And, please, feel free to share. Poems are not meant to sit still. ;)

  2. What a great poem. You have captured my feelings about these wonderful creatures. I have a personal love affair with the vulture. Every time I see them my spirit is raised and my day is made. There is a venue that roosts not far from my house, so I see them either in the trees or soaring nearby. My heart beats with joy when I see a kettle in the sky!

    1. Thank you, Karen. They are just so wonderful, aren't they?!