local_library Beaufort’s Scale

by Barbara Daniels

Published in Issue No. 48 ~ May, 2001
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‘Beaufort’s Scale’ – by Barbara Daniels

Gale force wind bursts the blown-mad
cardinals’ nest.  Flung burdocks leap
among flailing tendrils to pound
on the windows.  In your room
a bronze griffin alert on a wine bowl,
beak gaping.  Mirrors, chinoiserie.

Do you remember the day, love,
when all the trees were iced with cracking
glassware, cold stars?  Blue lights
gleamed in the scattering breakage,
lustrous balefire, dark lanterns,
their sliding panels ruptured.

Do both of us need the reckless beauty
of excess, descants leaping high above melodies,
ornaments brighter than song?  Or is it
precision we crave from the beautiful?
The careful gradations of Beaufort’s meticulous
scale: light air, moderate breeze, whole gale?

In this thundering, flowers fray.
Their doubled lips split to bearded stamens.
Are lies, after all, dear, what we live by?
Can I fail to call what I did duplicity?
Or stand in the shattering while all
that shined in us bursts and falls away?

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Barbara Daniels' chapbook, The Woman Who Tries to Believe, won the Quentin R. Howard Prize from Wind Publications. She received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.