This was sparked by coming across the term “beauty therapy” in some advert or other and thinking it might mean therapy to overcome or recover from beauty. The term “therapy”, though prostituted by words like “retail therapy” (spending money shopping, which apparently makes you happy: it makes the supermarkets and stores happy) implies something was sick or damaged, whereas “beauty therapy” often seems to mean a bit of tweaking and smoothing to make someone who appeared fine already look better (or believe they look better).
Apart from that, it’s a strange poem and I can’t easily explain it. Does it lose its way? What do you think?
Have you met beauty? Never mind.
Did it disturb you, shake you out of your chair?
Are you left with a memory of long, black hair?
Would it be easier to be blind?
Did a sequence of notes distress you and won’t leave your head?
Did the sea catch you, or the sly stars?
Has it returned among the screens and cars?
Would it be more straightforward to be dead?
Stop worrying. Our therapy will do the job.
All inconvenient memories we’ll erase.
We’ll smooth things down and round up all the strays
Until you’re happy, having nothing left to rob.
Whose is the shadow you are running from,
The fountain and the skull you can’t encompass?
Is the slow dawn too long?
What might not draw you to a foreign land
Or through a crack between the random rocks
To find deep down the ambiguous smile of man
And what you knew you were not?
What seas will the ship of beauty carry you under
What might the drowning man remember?
The word is written high on the cliffs
The word is No, too high was the risk
And though I turn away and look again
Scrabble and strain
The word’s the same
Unchanged the wish
That broke on that scar-jagged cliff.
But what was there may still be here
And what is here may shatter yet
And when the seas have risen high
All artifice will fall away
The cliff shall fall and so shall fear.
Copyright Simon Banks 2012