Erik Kennedy

Two poems

I Rank All the Beautiful Things There Are

I rank all the beautiful things there are
starting with self-sacrifice, then supernovas,
the brain, love, virga, Korean pottery,
lemurs, cuckoo clocks, suits of armour for horses,
a child’s first words, mercy, bread, and so on.
The list extends for miles in knee-high piles
of pages I arrange on my weekends.
But then I think that comprehensiveness
is better served by a more encyclopaedic
presentation, so in the best morocco
I bind the beautiful things alphabetically.
The volumes cover fine segments of language,
limited like thin, bright bands of colour:
Penumbra to Pineapple, Fox to Funerals,
Rome to Rum, Antigone to Apricot.
Every shelf groans under the staggering weight
of another shelf, it seems. The accumulation
of items in fixed forms is knowledge itself.
But then I think that serendipity
is better served by digitising all
my lists and groupings. I put them in a folder—
the first step in putting them out of mind.
Five years pass and I remember them.
I look and realise all my views have changed.
I start again: with empathy, then music,
coral reefs, tornadoes, ice, titanium,
spoken Esperanto, things like that.
I interrogate my past like someone who’s
set an exam for the examined life.
The only thing I am more than wrong is right.

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