Mark Doty: Tiara (a poem)

Peter died in a paper tiara
cut from a book of princess paper dolls;
he loved royalty, sashes

and jewels. I don’t know,
he said, when he woke in the hospice,
I was watching the Bette Davis film festival

on Channel 57 and then
At the wake, the tension broke
when someone guessed

the casket closed because
he was in there in a big wig
and heels, and someone said,

You know he’s always late,
he probably isn’t here yet —
he’s still fixing his makeup.

And someone said he asked for it.
Asked for it —
when all he did was go down

into the salt tide
of wanting as much as he wanted,
giving himself over so drunk

or stoned it almost didn’t matter who,
though they were beautiful,
stampeding into him in the simple,

ravishing music of their hurry.
I think heaven is perfect stasis
poised over the realms of desire,

where dreaming and waking men lie
on the grass while wet horses
roma among them huge fragments

of the music we die into
in the body’s paradise.
Sometimes we wake not knowing

how we came to life here,
or who has crowned us with these temporary,
precious stones. And given

the world’s perfectly turned shoulders,
the deep hollows blued by longing,
giving the irreplaceable silk

of horses rippling in orchards,
fruit thundering and chiming down,
given the ordinary marvels of form

and gravity, what could he do,
what could any of us ever do
but ask for it? 

from Fire to Fire (2008 HarperCollins)



One Response to “Mark Doty: Tiara (a poem)”

  1. MakingSpace says:

    Amen. And again, amen – because the comments system said my comment was too short. Maybe it knows best. A million amens.

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