Beauty Unframed author Lisa Elmers writes about life, loveliness, and seeing something where you thought there was nothing.

afternoon, in antiquities

afternoon, in antiquities

a fantasy at four o’clock:

in this sleepy wing, carpeted, careful

with wooly wide-loom

where patrons whisper among pictures

or peer & squint

into big lighted boxes,

wondering, wary, & brief –

the weight of objects, too taxing

makes to recoil, ironic relief –

turning from the weight, inwrought

of human work & human wanting –


& yet –

something swims, velveteen

into my vision. a shiny something

a shimmering something

alone, separate, as if it had spoke

aloud & suddenly, is there –


what a worker, & with what hands

to grip & cramp

with file and filigree freckling

flake on flake, frets to enflame,

inlays these things:

broach, buckle, button

plaque & pin

punching in

unlikely loops, & lines, ledge-lings

from a blank, by degrees

to make a map, in miniature,

of my delight, a curious cameo

here, among a dead man’s things.


to look is lovely –

little garden, golden-boxed

quartz kept, keeps the light

stays it or plays it,

sets the eye on edge, sends sight

back, by copper bends and cloisonné cups

into the brain, to record

& to rifle there among memories

paws the fragrant paper,

puts the page there, to that chapter

where once, wild

the heart hurt as it sung

stung, by – all the – pretty.


it is wrong to say we keep these

(trinkets, trifles, curios).

once the carving leaves

the carver’s caring, the

pendant unpossessed, possesses,

keeps us close, collars,

owns, us –

the trout

the trout

noli me tangere

noli me tangere