June 10, 2006

CHICAGO VOICES: “Arresting Beauty,” by Hank DeZutter

It’s blooming spring and –
white blossoms on Wabash
green budbursts on State –
trees I’ve ignored
are reaching out
for my attention.
One in a dark corner of Grant Park
Offers …
a giant open palm of lacy florescence,
a crystal tray of delicate canapés,
a glass plate of feathery white butterflies.

My favorite,
I say,
and more quickly than joy can spring,
into one’s heart
I trip and trouble
over its name,
as if knowing
will heighten its beauty.

I turn my gaze to
The Guide to North American Trees,
my naming obsession
worse
than a photographer’s need
to reduce and capture beauty
in small
squinty-eyed frames.

My beauty must have a name,
a Latinate derivative
some recorded attributes,
a history,
at least some familiar words … but

The Guide fails me.
No illustration therein
looks like this
exquisitely plateful of petals,
this gently glowing floral branching
This aery something brightened by the shadowy gloom.

Which I stopped watching in mad pursuit
of its official identity.

And I must wonder,
as I do each spring,
why I can’t let beauty
come into my life
or steal away
without getting its name
or number.

Hank DeZutter is a freelance writer, journalist and co-founder of the Community Media Workshop.

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