Behold the Beauty of Effort by Elizabeth Paul

In spite of ourselves, we become things we never expected. We are trying in a world that is full of trying.

Notice the straight lines and close joints of careful, confident trying. Note the rash, pragmatic diagonals of impromptu trying. We call this trying problem solving, but its slanting dynamism reveals it is far from a solution.

Maybe on your skin you can feel the moisture that tries to tear the plaster from the walls, to scrape off the paint, warp the wood, bend the boards, bust open the door, and breach the building. At a faster speed we would call this devastation, but moisture is slothful and patient and can’t help but try.

The weed reaches and stretches and tries to companion with the diagonal board for love of its painted green surface. Strange things happen like that—plants fall for diagonal planks.

The darkness tries to pull everything into itself and ends up illuminating the trying of headlights, stars, and street lamps. The darkness tries, but only effort is absolute. So we build our hopeful blue doors only to board them up. But trying is its own success. We are not what we thought we would be, but we are trying.

Elizabeth Paul’s chapbook of ekphrastic prose poems, Reading Girl, was published in 2016. Other work has appeared in The Carolina QuarterlyCider Press Review, and elsewhere. Liz served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and currently teaches ESOL and writing in the Washington, D.C. area. Find her at