Plenty

by Kevin Connolly

The sky, lit up like a question or
an applause meter, is beautiful
like everything else today: the leaves
in the gutters, salt stains on shoes,
the girl at the IGA who looks just like
Julie Delpy, but you don’t tell her –
she’s too young to get the reference and
coming from you it’ll just seem creepy.
So much beauty today you can’t find
room for it, closets already filled
with beautiful trees and smells and
glances and clever turns of phrase.
Behind the sky there’s a storm
On the way, which, with your luck,
will be a beautiful storm – dark
clouds beautiful as they arguably are,
the rain beautiful as it always is –
even lightning can be beautiful in a
scary kind of way (there’s a word
for that, but let’s forget it for the moment).
And maybe the sun will hang in long
enough to light up a few raindrops –
like jewels or glass or those bright beads
girls put between the letters on the
bracelets that spell out their beautiful names –
Skye or Miranda or Verandah – which isn’t
even a name, although it is a word
we use to call things what they are,
and would be a pleasant place to sit
and watch the beautiful sky, beautiful
storm, the people with their beautiful
names walking toward the lake
in lovely clothing saying unpleasant
things over the phone about the people
they work with, all of it just adding to the
mother lode, the surfeit of beauty,
which on this day is just a fancy way
of saying lots, too much, skidloads, plenty.

Notes on the Poem

Sometimes you just have to embrace a poem for what it is celebrating, and not question or analyze it *too* much ... well, maybe a little, but not at the expense of that sheer pleasure. Kevin Connolly's "Plenty" is perfect for that. "Plenty" celebrates the simple beauty that rises up unannounced, perhaps a bit unexpected, out of the mundane and not obviously enchanting. Leaves can indeed be transcendently beautiful in many forms ... but when they're in the gutter? Or is that signalling a change in the seasons? Salt stains on shoes aren't exactly beautiful. Then again, if folks are wearing shoes instead of boots, the snow must be melting and spring is on its way. Connolly's celebration is not purely unabashed because he's a bit reluctant to share it with much exuberance. He doesn't want the girl at the grocery store to think he's a creep, and even while he's imbuing the people around him with a golden glow of loveliness, he still notices that they might be saying cranky things on their annoying phones. His captivation is tempered with a tinge of self-effacing curmudgeonliness, and that makes it all the more believable and resonant. If you read this poem aloud (and you should) or you hear it read aloud (as Connolly does most charmingly here), the last line is guaranteed to catch with surprising emotion in your throat. Sure, there might still be the slightest hint that Connolly is being ironic throughout, but if you just want to take this poem at down to earth face value, there is plenty in it to inspire you to notice the beauty in your own surroundings, however humble.

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