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

Waking to fog

After two summery days in a row the fog is back. It made me think of this by Marvin Bell:

People Walking in Fog

They try to watch themselves, drifting in a white sigh,
the boats and trees, themselves, too,
when they think of it, spun from sheets of gauzy droplets
with which to tar the morning white and walk upon it.
The horizon yawns. The earth is liquid. They can feel
it, and not just it but the blanket meaning of it.
Here, bravado is the pretense of the immortal
before the infinite. There being no other side,
they just surrender to this, seeing they cannot
see far, find a door, hack a hole, or mark a spot.
Goats love fog. Parked lovers and beachcombers
love fog, and those who fear the authorities,
and the camera-shy love it, and they adore it
who wish to be wrapped in beauty so delicate
one must step outside to be able to see it.

Marvin Bell, from Mars Being Red