A Poem For Sunday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Ron Padgett’s Collected Poems is the recipient of this year’s Poetry Society of America William Carlos Williams Award for a book of poetry published by a small press, non-profit, or university press in a standard edition in 2012. The citation by poet Tom Lux reads in part: “I can think of no other poet I’ve read over the past forty years who embodies Williams’ spirit and his great heart’s aesthetic. Ron Padgett loves life so much, he finds the stuff of poetry everywhere. I mean everywhere. His most serious poems are playful, and his most playful poems are serious. He’s mischievous!”

“Nails” by Ron Padgett:

How did people trim their toenails in ancient times?
The Virgin Mary’s toenails look fine
in the paintings of the Italian Renaissance,
and it’s a good thing, too, for it would be hard
to worship a figure with very long toenails.
Perugino scoffed at a religion aimed
toward God but whose real attention
was on Mary, but he gave her nice toenails.
I’ve never looked at Jesus’ toenails, even
though they’re near the holes
in his feet, where the other nails were.
Cruelty is so graphic and hard to understand,
whereas beauty, even the beauty of a toe,
makes perfect sense. To me, anyway.

(From Collected Poems © 2013 by Ron Padgett. Used by permission of Coffee House Press. Image: The Deposition by Raphael, 1507, via Wikimedia Commons)