Thursday, January 16, 2014

Poem by Mark Doty (from My Alexandria)





NO

The children have brought their wood turtle
into the dining hall
because they want us to feel

the power they have
when they hold a house
in their own hands, want us to feel

alien lacquer and the little thrill
that he might, like God, show his face.
He's the color of ruined wallpaper,

of cognac, and he's closed,
pulled in as though he'll never come out;
nothing shows but the plummy leather

of the legs, his claws resembling clusters
of diminuitive raspberries.
They know he makes night

anytime he wants, so perhaps
he feels at the center of everything
as they do. His age

greater than that of anyone
around the table, is a room
from which they are excluded,

though they don't mind,
since they can carry this perfect
building everywhere. They love

that he might poke out
his old, old face, but doesn't.
I think the children smell unopened,

like unlit candles, as they heft him
around the table, praise his secrecy
holding to each adult face

his prayer,
the single word of the shell,
which is no.

##

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