Mark Doty reads "Heaven for Stanley," from his new collection School of the Arts, published by HarperCollins. Doty is widely considered to be one of the most important writers of his generation, and he's the only American ever to have received Britain's T.S. Eliot Prize.
Music: Triptych Myth (Cooper-Moore, Tom Abbs, Chad Taylor) - "The Fox" - from Hopscotch Records
Heaven for Stanley by Mark Doty (from School of the Arts)
For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean,
an annual, so he wouldn't have to wait for the flowers.
He said, Mark, I have just the place for it!
as if he'd spent ninety-eight years
anticipating the arrival of this particular vine.
I thought poetry a brace against time,
the hours held up for study in a voice's cool saline,
but his allegiance is not to permanent forms.
His garden's all furious change,
budding and rot and then the coming up again;
why prefer any single part of the round?
I don't know that he'd change a word of it;
I think he could be forever pleased
to participate in motion. Something opens.
He writes it down. Heaven steadies
and concentrates near the lavender. He's already there.