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Pauletta Hansel, For Beauty

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

For Beauty

by Pauletta Hansel

I’ve seen beauty in Harlan / in the trailing arbutus… [but] beauty / is a stranger / to the coal camps …

—Don West

Ground laurel, mayflower, trailing

its pink-tipped blooms

in the month of my father’s birth.

Epigaea repens “upon the earth.”

Arbutus “thee only do I love”

in the language of flowers, and he,

in his way, stayed true

to the ground he grew on.

My father always had to have the mountains in his sight.

No matter the trails of his sorrowing, restless mind,

his feet stayed planted

in mountain dirt.

“Trailing arbutus is very difficult to establish and perpetuate. It will not tolerate disturbance, is extremely susceptible to failure … even in good conditions.

From him I learned

you could love what you also hate

gaunt-eyed, gulp down, everlasting

grime and dirt

and digging

But beauty is never

a stranger.

Pauletta Hansel’s books include Friend, Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award for Appalachian poetry; Heartbreak Tree is forthcoming from Madville Publishing. Her writing was featured in Oxford American, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Pauletta was Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate and past managing editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel.

Listen to Pauletta Hansel's SOREN LIT podcast interview:

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