Musings and Meaning

We read this in Tim Geiger’s Creative Writing class my senior year and it never ceases to touch me — I think because it’s such a simple love. While not everyone is conventionally beautiful by society’s standards, everyone is “inexactly” beautiful, a deeper kind of beauty because it is made unique and significant through flaws and quirks and characteristics unable to be replicated. I would rather be beautiful inexactly. 🙂

“To Dorothy”
By Marvin Bell

You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
And a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
Of a windy night, it brushes the wall
And sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:
“Things that are lost are all equal.”
But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
The air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.


  1. This makes sense now. Last night I just nodded and smiled because I did not understand what “beautiful in exactly” meant. I thought that “exactly” was a state or condition, and that the author of the poem found the subject of the poem beautiful within that state. Inexactly makes a lot more sense.

    I’m really bored.

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