Monday, August 12, 2013

In the Community Garden by Mark Doty

Photo from our Facebook page - I think Julie took it
I read this poem on The Writer's Almanac and immediately thought of the gardens that we maintain and assist with.  The author was kind enough to give us permission to use the poem and included this note:

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for the good word, and it sounds like you're doing good work. I went to first grade in Memphis, at what used to be Peabody Elementary School -- I think it's a sort of arts or cultural center now. I lived in a house long ago torn down -- this would have been around 1959 -- next door to a woman who was the mistress of Pete Fountain, the jazz musician.

Anyway -- it would be just fine with me for you to use my poem. The rights to reprint it technically belong to my publisher, HarperCollins, but in truth I don't think anyone will ever notice or mind if you just use it; my work is all over the web, and I like that people have access to it in that way.

So, ... just post it yourself and note that it is from my book FIRE TO FIRE: New and Selected Poems, and used by permission of the author.

How nice to be able to recognize a Memphis boy!

     by Mark Doty

It's almost over now,
late summer's accomplishment,
and I can stand face to face

with this music,
eye to seed-paved eye
with the sunflowers' architecture:

such muscular leaves,
the thick stems' surge.
Though some are still

shiningly confident,
others can barely
hold their heads up;

their great leaves wrap the stalks
like lowered shields. This one
shrugs its shoulders;

this one's in a rush
to be nothing but form.
Even at their zenith,

you could see beneath the gold
the end they'd come to.
So what's the use of elegy?

If their work
is this skyrocket passage
through the world,

is it mine to lament them?
Do you think they'd want
to bloom forever?

It's the trajectory they desire—
believe me, they do
desire, you could say they are

one intent, finally,
to be this leaping
green, this bronze haze

bending down. How could they stand
apart from themselves
and regret their passing,

when they are a field
of lifting and bowing faces,
faces ringed in flames?

"In the Community Garden" by Mark Doty, from Fire to Fire. © Harper Collins, 2008. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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