Marvin Bell

Marvin Bell died in 2020. I had corresponded with him–a generous man, a famous teacher of poetry.  Here is one of his poems:

To Dorothy

You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
and a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
of a windy night, it brushes the wall
and sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:
"Things that are lost are all equal."
But it isn't true. If I lost you,
the air wouldn't move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn't be yours. If I lost you,
I'd have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

Marvin Bell
from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000, Copper Canyon Press

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