It’s a kindness, sometimes,
how you’d like to say one thing
but choose another, that “luscious roast,”
for instance, you could wear home as a shoe,
the “lovely dress” that reminds you
of a tent flap in a storm.
Yes, you say, it’s a dazzling page-turner,
thinking where did the language go to die?
Such are the diplomatic swerves
one takes for friends and family, not to mention
one’s beloved, and how lovely to offer them
a dollop of cream instead of the gall.
Of course, some lies are better left unsaid,
their footings crumbling to powder
even before the house is built
but some are so artfully conceived
you almost wish you were the object
of their attentions, many thanks
for your intricate efforts!
The world is your oyster your fortune says
with a sleight and a wink
and even you seem willing to be huckstered in,
looking for the sweetness in the salt,
and maybe the hidden pearl.
And isn’t it too easy to admire the truth
stretching always like a clear expanse
without obstruction or change?
Nothing in its field to cast a shadow
or bend the light in a hundred ways.
Nothing of the lie circling toward you now
with a straight face and the faintest smile
as if to say here is the world, truth be told,
and here it is again, all tangle and curve.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 34 Number 5, on page 44
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