Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24: Poems of Thanksgiving, Mark Doty, "Brian Age Seven"

I have decided to focus on poems of thanks this week, in honor of the American holiday of Thanksgiving being celebrated this Thursday.

I don't think I say "thanks" enough in my life.  There's so much for which I am grateful.  For example, I am grateful for the Christmas essay I finished this weekend.  I know that I had a little divine help with that one.  I am grateful for my job.  I am surrounded by good people who like me.  I am grateful that I have two, healthy, happy kids.  I am grateful for my wife, who supports me in all of my crazy jobs and obsessions.  I am grateful for my life.  I have a home that's warm, cars that run (for the moment), and almost enough money to pay my bills.

So, the first poem this week is by Mark Doty.

And Saint Marty gives thanks for it.

Brian Age Seven

by:  Mark Doty

Grateful for their tour
of the pharmacy,
the first-grade class
has drawn these pictures,
each self-portrait taped
to the window-glass,
faces wide to the street,
round and available,
with parallel lines for hair.
I like this one best: Brian,
whose attenuated name
fills a quarter of the frame,
stretched beside impossible
legs descending from the ball
of his torso, two long arms
springing from that same
central sphere. He breathes here,
on his page. It isn’t craft
that makes this figure come alive;
Brian draws just balls and lines,
in wobbly crayon strokes.
Why do some marks
seem to thrill with life,
possess a portion
of the nervous energy
in their maker’s hand?
That big curve of a smile
reaches nearly to the rim
of his face; he holds
a towering ice cream,
brown spheres teetering
on their cone,
a soda fountain gift
half the length of him
—as if it were the flag
of his own country held high
by the unadorned black line
of his arm. Such naked support
for so much delight! Artless boy,
he’s found a system of beauty:
he shows us pleasure
and what pleasure resists.
The ice cream is delicious.
He’s frail beside his relentless standard.

Thanks for ice cream

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