“Maple Gall” is a poem by Robert Morgan that was published in the current (November 2011) issue of The Atlantic. It made me stop in my tracks and think about disfigurement and beauty of body and particularly of spirit. I’ll write another post about it when I’ve digested a little more. Meanwhile, please read it and let me know your reactions in the comments.
What looks at first like rotten fruit,
hung round the maple’s slender trunk
we know’s a tortured cluster of
malignancies where cells grow drunk
with larvae, mites or fungus, worms,
with virus or bacteria,
and multiply as tumors, bulge
of goiters, awful excess growths.
But when you look at all the gross
disfigurements at closer range
you see the beauty of distortion,
the sculpture of disease, the strange
and replicating work the tree
is not supposed to yield, a flowery
production so grotesque it seems
a kind of miracle in wood
that makes this sapling both unique
and memorable by virtue of
its suffering swollen sores and scars,
the warts that are its finest art.
Visit Robert Morgan’s website at http://www.robert-morgan.com.