Contents | July/August 2001

In This Issue (Contributors)

More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.

From Atlantic Unbound:

Interviews: "Fallen Beauty" (November 10, 1999)
The poet Mark Doty discusses his new memoir, Firebird, and his coming of age into queerness and art.

Also by Mark Doty:
Long Point Light (1994)
A Display of Mackerel (1995)
The Embrace (1997)

The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2001
Lily and Bronze

by Mark Doty
RealAudio linkHear Mark Doty read this poem (in RealAudio)

Zenith June and this tower:
seventeen white throats
opening a tier at a time

to interiors purely narcotic—

I mean the lily's giddy spire,
each trumpet nothing
but intent to drench

in scent and pollen
any approaching face.
Look at them,

the full flare of them,
and your looking empties out;

turn back and there they are,
blazing: they go on arriving,
as if nothing ended but our attention.

Like those horses in Venice,
the quadriga, four Roman bronzes
stolen to Constantinople,

robbed again to Venice,
mounted on the facade of the basilica
eight hundred years,

then brought in from
the chemical rain,
restant and looming,

in a brick vault I entered
through a little door—
I, I say, but I wasn't then,

but suddenly bright faces tilted
just to one side, turbulent, breathing
and O for the speech to make you

the muscle and push of it,
a bronze mouth for the heft
and thunderhead,

sweat and fierce of them

It's the same with the lilies:
look hard enough and they hurry
ceaseless toward a place where

you are no longer standing,
their flanks also dusted
in scoured gold. Seconds only,

until the moment collapses
and you turn away. Though
they go on unfolding,

in a great arrested suspension: leap
  and stasis fused.

What do you think? Discuss this article in Post & Riposte.

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July/August 2001; Lily and Bronze; Volume 288, No. 1; page 88.