By Tess Bradley

I’ll never understand the truly polite woman.
The one who stands like a first lady on my left shoulder.
Is she real? Or is she artificial, poised like a human figure sitting for a portrait to be painted.
Is grace real?
Can we find it in nature?

Yes, yes, yes!
Hordes of voices are yelling from my mosh-pit mouth.
There’s loads of grace in nature.
Take trees. Take birds– any birds!
Okay, maybe not penguins particularly.
No! Even penguins!
Take peacocks. The stillness, the still life.
The profile of a woodpecker.
The wood print of any profile.
The beak. The crest.
The backward leg joints.
The fan of feathers resting or spread out in the sun like a hand of Bicycle cards, red or blue playing cards.
Surely you can locate dignity in your own body, if not in your mind.
The bones of your prehistoric wings.
You, hanging upside down like a bat, a butterfly.
Cobalt blue against white and black, with harvest moon yellow orange.

Is my beauty the same thing as my dignity?
Is my dignity the same thing, or at least holding hands, with my divinity or our collective will to fly, to be driven, to be grateful, to be still and to honor life?

Can we be still?