Mark C. Watney

Beauty Bothers Me

Beauty, said the atheist –
bothers me.

heard it once in Bach’s Mass in B-Minor
and found myself – inexplicably –
crying over a god
who said he died for me
(and roughly had to wipe away
the silly tears)

St. Francis said he saw it in a pig –
and broke its heart
by lying to it
and putting into its stumpy head
silly phantasies of power and beauty
(such as Orwell wrote about in that book of his)

Galway Kinnell said he saw it in a bud
a dumb green stump
which fools (and poets) say
will one day sprout
(supposedly into a flower)

And C.S Lewis said he felt it when reading Longfellow’s
poem
about the death of Balder, the Norse god of Beauty.
It made him suddenly weep
with almost sickening intensity– he said
for something never to be described:

But if a bud
or sow
or god
can — suddenly — sprout…
and if pigs begin to fly

and atheists begin to cry
I might just have to
look a little harder
at this strange
evolutionary appendix – this thing they call
beauty

Mark was born and raised in South Africa and immigrated to America in 1977 when a humble peanut-farmer was still president. He travelled and worked for a few years in Turkey, Japan, and India before returning to the States as an English teacher at Belmont High near downtown LA. He is currently teaching English at Sterling College in Kansas since 2006, and began writing poetry more seriously at age 57.