Tuesday, 31 January 2023

American Life in Poetry: Scarf

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

In her poem, “Scarf,” Rita Dove, with inimitable delicacy, efficiency and grace, captures something of the way in which our sensate bodies are often the true legislators of beauty.

Here, the sense of touch is celebrated through a beautiful image that evokes just how much our need to feel is as essential as breathing.

By Rita Dove

Whoever claims beauty
lies in the eye
of the beholder

has forgotten the music
silk makes settling
across a bared

neck: skin never touched
so gently except
by a child

or a lover.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2021 by Rita Dove, “Scarf” from Playlist for the Apocalypse, (W.W. Norton & Company, 2021.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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