The 2River View 24.4 (Summer 2020)

Peter Leight

The Appearance of Beauty in America

Tonight I’m sitting around with my friends, thinking about how beautiful it is right here in America where everything is beautiful, and if it’s not beautiful it’s about to be, it’s the first thing I notice when I’m with my friends, who are beautiful or doing something beautiful, there are so many things that need to be done right here in America it’s beautiful when you look at all the things my friends are doing, or getting ready to do—it’s true, they don’t always know what they’re doing, not all the time, how do you know if something is beautiful or if it’s just the appearance?  Everybody knows about America the beautiful, where everything is beautiful or is about to be, but honestly I don’t care if my friends are beautiful—when they’re your friends it doesn’t matter what they look like, they don’t need to be beautiful, even when they are.  Of course, as long as something is beautiful it doesn't have to be more beautiful than anything else in America, it doesn’t even need to be as beautiful as something else that’s also beautiful, although I don’t think anybody is more beautiful than my friends are when they’re doing something beautiful, I mean they don’t even have to know what they’re doing, not all the time, as long as it’s beautiful.


When they hold out their hands that’s when they’re waiting for you to play into their hands, you think they’re somewhere else but they’re not where you think they are, they’re somewhere else.  When you back up they’re behind you, as if what’s in front of you is only the shadow of what’s behind you, move to the side and they’re right next to you, as if they’re giving you a hand—that’s when they’re looking at you as if they’ve never seen anything like it, that’s when they’re holding their hands together as if their hands are tied.  Of course, everybody wants to be saved, as long as it’s legitimate, they’re offering you a hand, attaching themselves to you the way interest follows the principal around, that’s when they’re looking at you as if you need to be taken away and deposited.  When you look for them they’re somewhere else, as if it’s out of their hands, you never see both of their hands at the same time.  As soon as you think they’re somewhere else they’re surrounding you on every side—don’t let them tell you they consent to withdraw voluntarily, they never do, their biggest need is to be exposed.  Holding out their hands like one of those safety nets you don’t even know you’re caught in, that’s when they’re holding on, that’s when they’re looking at you as if they’re taking you home with them.

Peter Leight has previously published poems in AGNI, Beloit Poetry Review, Field, Matter, Paris Review, Raritan, and other magazines.

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