Beals, Ellen Wade

United States, (contemporary)

How to know (Taxonomy)

  1. Hard to believe.
  2. While the doctor spoke,
  3. she scanned her scant knowledge of microbiology:
  4. rods and spheres and spirochetes.
  5. Flashed to the boss who summed up
  6. the world as inhabited by
  7. foxes or pigs. Either you were
  8. a fox or you were a pig. For a while
  9. in the bar after the Christmas party,
  10. they categorized all their co-workers
  11. and she argued there were also cows and sheep.
  12. After they nailed it down
  13. to the mailroom clerk, they grew quiet,
  14. fox or pig.
  15. She feared he might make a pass.
  16. Did it all come down to that?
  17. Rod, sphere, spirochete.
  18. Fox or pig,
  19. smoking or non.
  20.  
  21. A contractor once told her,
  22. when it came to door handles,
  23. men like knobs, women like latches.
  24. Knobs and latches.
  25.  
  26. On the drive down the boulevard,
  27. great grammy says, “I’ve never given such notice
  28. to trees before. They’re so green,
  29. so lush this year. That one is square.”
  30. Perhaps you cannot see the trees
  31. for the leaves: oval, palmate,
  32. linear, reniform, cuneate, acerose,
  33. orbicular, hastate, spatulate.
  34.  
  35. Columbia River Valley waterfalls
  36. are typed: plunge, horsetail,
  37. fan, tier, block, cascade,
  38. segments, and punchbowl.
  39. “Wouldn’t you like to be water?” asks her son,
  40. “You could fall and tumble and never get hurt.”
  41.  
  42. Spatulate and spirochete.
  43. Fox and horsetail.
  44. Regular or decaf.
  45.  
  46. You may discriminate the seven types
  47. of snowflakes: plates, stars,
  48. columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped
  49. columns, irregular crystals.
  50. Or perhaps you look at the larger picture
  51. and see snow in dunes or sastrugi.
  52.  
  53. Palmate and plunge
  54. Spirochete and dendrite.
  55. Plain or peanut.
  56.  
  57. A favorite poem discusses diamond
  58. cuts: pear, heart, oval, emerald,
  59. radiant, baguette, trillion, quadrillion
  60. marquise, Old European,
  61. and American Standard Brilliant.
  62.  
  63. How to know. What
  64. kind, sort, type, class, division?
  65. So many different,
  66. so much the same.
  67. Maybe it comes to this:
  68. Two kinds of people,
  69. those who divide the world
  70. and those who don’t.
  71.  
  72. Forest or trees.
  73. Spatulate or spirochete. Dead or alive.

Used with permission. © Ellen Wade Beals.

About the Poet:

Ellen Wade Beals (contemporary) is a U.S. writer of poetry and prose. Beals’ work has appeared in literary magazines such as After Hours, Falling Star, Off Channel, Eclipse, Hip Mama, Eclectic Literature and The Stony Thursday Book (Ireland), in anthologies such as Kiss Me Goodnight and Take Two, and on the web.

In 1999, her short story, Picking, was awarded Willow Springs fiction prize and she was named one of Chicago’s emerging poets by The Poetry Center for her poem “How the Egg Came to Be Eaten.”. Her poem “Between the Sheets” is in the textbook Everything’s a Text and set between Sherman Alexie and Billy Collins. Most recently, Ellen started Weighed Words LLC and its first title is Solace in So Many Words, which Ellen edited, came out in May 2011. [DES-07/12]

Additional information:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.