“Maple Gall” is a poem by Robert Morgan that was published in the current (November 2011) issue of The Atlantic. It made me stop in my tracks and think about disfigurement and beauty of body and particularly of spirit. I’ll write another post about it when I’ve digested a little more. Meanwhile, please read it and let me know your reactions in the comments.
Maple GallWhat looks at first like rotten fruit, hung round the maple’s slender trunk we know’s a tortured cluster of malignancies where cells grow drunk with larvae, mites or fungus, worms, with virus or bacteria, and multiply as tumors, bulge of goiters, awful excess growths. But when you look at all the gross disfigurements at closer range you see the beauty of distortion, the sculpture of disease, the strange and replicating work the tree is not supposed to yield, a flowery production so grotesque it seems a kind of miracle in wood that makes this sapling both unique and memorable by virtue of its suffering swollen sores and scars, the warts that are its finest art.