Those Various Scalpels,


those
various sounds consistently indistinct, like intermingled echoes
      struck from thin glasses successively at random–
            the inflection disguised: your hair, the tails of two
      fighting-cocks head to head in stone–
            like sculptured scimitars repeating the curve of your ears in reverse order:
                  your eyes, flowers of ice and snow

sown by tearing winds on the cordage of disabled ships; your raised hand,
      an ambiguous signature: your cheeks, those rosettes
            of blood on the stone floors of French chateaux,
      with regard to which the guides are so affirmative–
                  your other hand,

a bundle of lances all alike, partly hid by emeralds from Persia
      and the fractional magnificence of Florentine
            goldwork–a collection of little objects–
      sapphires set with emeralds, and pearls with a moonstone, made fine
            with enamel in gray, yellow, and dragon-fly blue;
                  a lemon, a pear

and three bunches of grapes, tied with silver: your dress, a magnificent square
      cathedral tower of uniform
            and at the same time diverse appearance–a
      species of vertical vineyard rustling in the storm
            of conventional opinion. Are they weapons or scalpels?
                  Whetted to brilliance

by the hard majesty of that sophistication which is superior to opportunity,
      these things are rich instruments with which to experiment.
            But why dissect destiny with instruments
                  more highly specialized than components of destiny itself?


Marianne Moore, The Collected Poems of Marianne Moore, Viking Penguin, 1941.